Family remembers daughter’s kindness, after Lubbock drunk driver sentenced for her death

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:21 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock man will spend a decade in a state prison after admitting to driving drunk, killing a Texas Tech student back in 2019.

Anthony Puente pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter in a Lubbock County courtroom Thursday afternoon. Sarah Dearmond was killed in the crash. Family says Sarah was known for her kindness and willingness to help anyone.

Her family hopes people will keep her legacy alive and never get behind the wheel drunk.

“When you’re drunk and you’re driving just, you never know, in five minutes that’s gonna have a lasting impact on somebody’s life if someone is killed,” her father, Ken Dearmond, said.

In just a few moments, Puente’s actions changed the Dearmond’s lives forever. He was 20 years old when he was driving drunk and crashed into the car Sarah was riding in. She died at the hospital; the driver suffered serious injuries.

“I’ve got grandkids that are some real small and, they’ll never know how terrible it was to...and understand why she’s not with us anymore,” Dearmond said.

Her father says Sarah Grace, who they called Gracie, was a shining star, always there to advocate for and inspire other people.

“Whether you were in a wheelchair or you had cancer, or whatever the case, she always had a kind heart to, what do you need? And go with you to help get other people to stand behind you. And whatever you needed, try and get it for you,” he said.

Her father says Gracie would often say she was going to be someone and make a difference. Gracie’s mother, Rhonda Dearmond, addressed the court that accepted her killer’s plea, saying she is making that difference, just in a different way now.

She says Gracie is inspiring people to keep her legacy of kindness alive and her death brings more awareness to the dangers of drunk driving.

“You don’t have to wait ‘til something terrible happens in your family to kind of be an advocate. And I mean, giving people rides or anything like that,” Dearmond said.

Her mom started a non-profit, Get Home By Grace, that provides free Uber rides for people who can’t drive home.

Puente’s attorney says he wakes up every day reliving what happened and that words can’t express his sorrow for her family and friends.

Her mother says she prays Puente would become an advocate against drunk and drugged driving and become passionate like Gracie.

“I would hope, too, that, you know, he would get help and change and have time to think about it,” Dearmond said.

Puente pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter and will spend the next ten years in state prison. He will receive some credit for a few months he served after the crash in 2019.