Ryan Lisabeth on Thursday was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he drove high on heroin and mowed down three boys on a Northwest Atlanta sidewalk last year, killing one and seriously injuring two others.

Driver in heroin-induced wreck that killed child gets 30 years

Ryan Lisabeth on Thursday was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he drove high on heroin and mowed down three boys on a Northwest Atlanta sidewalk last year, killing one and seriously injuring two others.

Lisabeth, 29, who is from Canton, faced 49 years in prison on a variety of charges, including three counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of serious injury by vehicle, possession of heroin, driving under the influence of drugs, reckless driving and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Wiping away tears and struggling to keep his composure, Lisabeth apologized to his victims’ families before Fulton Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk sentenced him.

Isaiah Ward, 9, died from injuries he sustained in the crash. His older brother, Roland, suffered a broken leg and pelvis. And a friend, Timothy Hood, suffered a fractured skull and a traumatic brain injury before falling into a coma.

“To the families of the Wards and the Hoods, I would like to say to them and the community that has been directly affected by this accident – I would just like to apologize to them,” said Lisabeth, who wore a blue Fulton County jail uniform. “I want to tell the Wards that I am extremely sorry for their loss. And I wish more than anything that I could reverse time or trade places with their son. I can’t.”

April 26, 2016 Atlanta, GA: Funeral service at Lindsay Street Baptist Church for Isaiah Ward. Ward was struck and killed by an automobile while walking in his neighborhood with his Northwest Atlanta neighborhood last year. BRANT SANDERLIN/bsanderlin@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

LaFreddie Smith, Isaiah and Roland’s uncle, was disappointed Lisabeth didn’t receive a longer sentence.

“It is not justice,” Smith said. “He will be 59 — almost 60 — when he comes out, which means he gets to start over. He gets a second chance at life. We don’t get that. Isaiah is gone. Roland is not mentally there. When you look at him, it is like he is literally staring into space.”

Prosecutors say Lisabeth injected heroin moments before speeding down Joseph E. Boone Boulevard, veering over the center line and driving up onto the sidewalk where he struck the three children. During Thursday’s hearing, Lisabeth’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, said the heroin he took was laced with fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that can be fatal in small amounts. Emergency workers, she said, revived him at the scene with Narcan, which reverses the effects of overdoses.

Lisabeth’s case was the subject of an extensive article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year.The AJC also reported that Lisabeth admitted to driving under the influence of drugs in Atlanta but was found not guilty of the charge in March of last year, a month before police say he drove high again and mowed down the three boys.

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