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Mother of boy killed in crash asks Parole Board to make driver serve full sentence

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Video Credit: YouTube

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT : Only Suzanne Beattie knows whether she got a wink of sleep before having to ask the state Parole Board in Trenton today to keep the driver who killed her 15-year-old son and their 14-year-old friend locked up. But first: a trip to Kevin Michael Beattie Jr.’s grave.


The then-17-year-old driver was originally sentenced to 19 months incarceration for vehicular homicide after prosecutors proved that he was speeding that November night two years ago when his Nissan Maxima rolled over several times on southbound Route 17 in Waldwick.

The sentence — on two convictions of vehicular homicide — was later reduced to 15 months.

Now, the teen responsible for killing her son and 14-year-old Thomas Carlis — also of Emerson, who was in the back seat — is looking at an early release, Suzanne Beattie said.

Thomas Carlis, 14


Prevention is important. But so is deterrence — and punishment, she told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“The two families agreed to 18 months,” she said. “The judge knocked it down to 15 months — and now that could be lowered as well for ‘good behavior.’

“My family and I have a life sentence of pain from our devastating loss of Kevin, and this person is going to get out early?”

An exquisite tribute to Kevin:

Suzanne Beattie thought her son was in town that fateful night. So did Tom’s mom, Rebecca (Carlis) Harris.

Both were horrified to learn of the crash, on a stretch of Route 17 that some compare to the Bermuda Triangle. Vehicles enter quickly from side streets there, while drivers heading south on the highway from New York don’t ease up on the gas after several miles of freeway driving.

For those youngsters to be there in the first place was inviting danger, loved ones said.

Things got worse once the local daily newspaper got hold of the story. Several family members cited inaccuracies and outright mistakes that, they said, led to and fed rumors that further agonized two terribly hurting families.

The worst of it was the reporting of young Tom’s death — a full half-day before the Emerson Jr./Sr. High School freshman took his last breath.

People from town, and beyond, banded together to support the families and show their love. Small towns like Emerson are hit hard by such senseless tragedies.

Besides making her pitch in Trenton today, Suzanne Beattie is circulating an online petition. It says, in part: “Help us make the Parole Board keep him in for his full sentence.”

Click here to sign the petition

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