Family of Clear-Creek Amana teen react to guilty plea - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family of Clear-Creek Amana teen react to guilty plea

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A guilty plea came today from a young man who crashed his car and killed a 14-year-old Clear-Creek Amana student.

Thursday morning, Zachary Swenka pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of Mackenzie Lown.

"Our daughter was a very positive, bright individual," said Michael Lown, Mackenzie's father.

"I do forgive him," said Kelly Smith, her mother. "I hope it never happens again."

Investigators say Zachary Swenka, who was just 18 at the time, was driving recklessly, around 100 miles per hour, though Swenka said he was only going 60 mph.

"He had lied several times this morning and that really hurt," said Smith.

After refusing to accept Swenka's plea and ending the hearing, the judge later reconvened and decided to let Swenka plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, an aggravated misdemeanor.

"I had never wanted this to happen," said Swenka. "I'm sorry with the pain I've caused everyone, especially Mackenzie's family."

Emotions ran high in court as Lown's parents spoke to Swenka during victim impact statements.

"That day, you took someone from this earth who was going to do great things," said Michael Lown.

"You stole her every dream and you crushed her," said Smith. "You crushed our family."

Swenka's parents watched as their son was sentenced to up to two years in prison. Though only Mackenzie was killed, other friends were also in Swenka's car at the time of the accident.

"Something had to happen to Zach for taking the life of one of my best friends," said Chloe Keith, who was in the car. 

"I can truly find peace now that it's over," said Claire Riggen, who was also in the car.

Friends and family are doing their best to move forward.

"I know nothing's going to bring our daughter back," said Smith.

Mackenzie's parents say it's tough to call Swenka's sentencing justice, but they're glad he will be held responsible for his actions.

Zachary Swenka says he considered Mackenzie a friend. He says her death will be on his heart the rest of his life.

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