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Park Rapids teen gets community service in motorcyclist's 2009 death

A Park Rapids teenager involved in a fatal accident one year ago was given a choice Friday: seven days in jail or 120 hours of community service, 40 of which will be spent educating drivers ed students about making mistakes that take a life.

A tearful Brittany Ann Sayler, 19, chose the public service. She was driving a car on County Road 15 that pulled onto County Road 6 April 17, 2009. Motorcyclist John Kisner,42, struck her vehicle broadside. He died at the scene.

Sayler was sentenced for the second time Friday on a failure to yield the right-of-way charge. A careless driving charge was dismissed in a plea agreement. She had received a seven-day jail term earlier this spring, then withdrew her plea. The judge removed himself from the case.

She re-entered an open plea of guilty shortly after Judge Robert Tiffany removed himself. Her attorney had argued jail time was not part of the original plea deal.

Judge John Smith, who replaced Tiffany, ordered Sayler to write a letter of apology to Kisner's family and participate in victim-offender mediation.

"Your past DWI is not a helpful thing to you," Smith told Sayler. The Kisner family believes "you can honor their loved one's memory by being a successful, productive person.

"I have no magic bullet for this," Smith continued, then softened his tone.

"Just because you made a mistake doesn't make you a terrible person. It will not do you any good to go into the pits over this."

He urged Sayler to "be strong, to go on."

She will be on one year of supervised probation, be fined $500 and lose her driving privileges for six months unless she needs to drive to school or work. She is a student at BSU.

Smith did not order restitution because it had been resolved through the "civil case" against Sayler's insurer.