NEW PRAGUE, Minn. (WCCO) — A driver who was texting when she hit and killed a 79-year-old New Prague man will spend four days in jail after a judge ordered her sentence on Monday.

A Le Sueur County judge sentenced 48-year-old Susan Ann Russo for the accident that happened nearly one year ago on Oct. 28, 2015.

The victim, Joe Tikalsky, was a school bus driver who was walking out to his mailbox outside of his home when he was hit.

The Tikalsky family is choosing action over anger.

Emma Jean Tikalsky, who was married to Joe Tikalsky for 54 years, said Monday was the first time she and her children met with the driver who hit her husband.

“We cried together and they begged us, my daughter and myself, ‘Would you please find it in your heart to forgive us?'” Emma Jean Tikalsky said. “I knew that was the godlike thing I would be expected to do and we did. We said yes.”

The Tikalskys hope other drivers will realize it only takes a split second to take a life and change the lives of so many more people.

“Four days or 400 days, it really doesn’t matter,” Emma Jean Tikalsky said. “I know she didn’t mean to kill anyone.”

Joe Tikalsky drove a New Prague school bus for almost 50 years.

He was wearing his reflective jacket from work when he walked out to get the paper and was hit near his mailbox.

“It’s even more scary knowing that we have this society that is, I’ll say, addicted to their phone,” Joe Tikalsky’s son Greg said. “His kids were his pride and joy and his grandkids were his pride and joy.”

The family is working with lawmakers to lobby for more strict and defined distracted driving laws and consequences in Minnesota.

It is illegal right now to read or send texts while driving, even when stopped at a light.

“We care about people living and something must be done,” Emma Jean Tikalsky said.

Russo will spend two days in jail on the anniversary of Joe Tikalsky’s death this year and two days next year on the anniversary as part of the agreement.

Russo will also pay a $3,000 fine that the family wants used to raise awareness against distracted driving.

Comments (14)
  1. Dan Mack says:

    Hmmm. Four days for a life. Sounds fair. We have to rid the Socialist Welfare Village of the white taxpayers anyway to make room for our open borders welfare imports. The diversity makes us stronger.

    1. Thomas Evenstad says:

      Hey Chet face, give me back my Vaseline. Tell your black boyfriend to bring his own.

  2. NonLib says:

    Far Far far bigger people than I would be. Yes – forgiveness is the right thing to do but when your live is destroyed by someone be so foolish – I dunno if I could find it in my heart to do so.

    Now as far as the sentence handed done – if this is it, the most we can and will do in the system then remove the law. It has no teeth, it is hardly ever enforced (manpower issue I imagine) and is a farce as it stands.
    Either use it and enforce it or end it. This is a farce, a total joke

  3. memphisgrass says:

    Clearly texting and driving is not taken seriously in Minnesota. This is sad and people will continue to do it. Out West signs are posted everywhere,
    $1000 fine for texting and driving, guess what, you don’t see people texting and driving. Pretty simple concept not understood by lawmakers in Minnesota.

  4. golfer says:

    But no no no – im a good texter

  5. golfer says:

    Last year someone actually commented – well you cant change the law just because there are a few people who dont know how to text and drive – I DO IT ALL THE TIME AND ITS NO PROBLEM he says – my gosh were in trouble !!!

  6. digg the truth says:

    Forgiving is one thing, BUT the legal system has to do its JOB. And by the way I hope that Judge losses his job.

  7. Joe says:

    It’s really too bad she wasn’t the one who died. She should have had her license revoked for life.

  8. Thomas Evenstad says:

    That sounds about right. It was an accident. She is a good person who made a bad decision. She is a cute white lady. The guy was old and was going to die anyway. It all makes sense when you think about it. Texting while driving is a necessity.

    1. Mary says:

      Yes, Thomas, it is because she is a cute white lady. (i.e. you are stupid)

  9. Kill someone while violating the law and get only 4 days in jail?! No wonder so many people text while driving. They know if they injure or kill someone, they won’t be punished. She is such a wonderful role model for drivers every where.

  10. Woody says:

    The judge should lose his job and be handed a 100 year sentence himself for stupidity!

  11. man says:

    If this was a man, they would have thrown the book at him, period. Yet another Double Standard. Wake up guys.

  12. Furk says:

    Hmm, she must have played a little skin flute for the judge to get a sweet deal like that. Or it’s just because she was a white middle class woman. Nice blindfold there, justice.