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

Posted: Updated:
IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

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.

  • NEWSNEWSMore>>

  • Touch a Truck

    Touch a Truck

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 4:46 AM EDT2014-07-29 08:46:34 GMT
    The Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls is hosting the 5th Annual Touch-a-Truck event.This event is an outdoor event held at the National Cattle Congress on Saturday, August 16 from 11am-2pm.Kids will be able to get up close and personal with over 20 different vehicles, such as police cars, ambulances, dump trucks and excavators.More >>
    The Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls is hosting the 5th Annual Touch-a-Truck event.This event is an outdoor event held at the National Cattle Congress on Saturday, August 16 from 11am-2pm.Kids will be able to get up close and personal with over 20 different vehicles, such as police cars, ambulances, dump trucks and excavators.
    More >>
  • National heroin epidemic spreads through Iowa

    National heroin epidemic spreads through Iowa

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-07-29 03:46:19 GMT
    The recent rise in heroin abuse across the county is injecting eastern Iowa, and local, state, and federal leaders are trying to figure out why. More >>
    The recent rise in heroin abuse across the county is injecting eastern Iowa, and local, state, and federal leaders are trying to figure out why. More >>
  • Tenant ready to move in to former Rath admin building

    Tenant ready to move in to former Rath admin building

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-07-29 03:44:30 GMT
    One of eastern Iowa's lasting remnants showing the impact of the farm crisis may finally be getting a long-awaited makeover.More >>
    One of eastern Iowa's lasting remnants showing the impact of the farm crisis may finally be getting a long-awaited makeover.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KWWL. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Sandy Youngblut at 319-291-1259. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.