OCALA, Fla. - She used to enjoy spending time outdoors. Now, a special trip is into an empty room at Florida's Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala.
Twenty-nine year old Cheryl Reimann said she has accepted this place for the next 15 years.
Accepted it -- because of what she has done.
Two and half a years ago, Reimann was so drunk that she drove the wrong way on the Crosstown Expressway, critically injuring a 4-year-old girl, Summer Moll.
"I am here if Summer wants to ask any questions, hopefully one day they can forgive me, I just pray about it every day," Reimann said.
She left Summer literally broken from head to toe.
The bay area has wrapped their arms around this little girl who now, at seven years old, has already endured 14 surgeries, six skin grafts and countless hours of therapy.
Riemann had heard and read about all the injuries, but she saw them for the first time when she plead guilty in December of 2010.
"I was looking at her face and her scars," Riemann said through tears.
While Summer barely survived, her mother, Jennifer O'Boyle, didn't have a chance. Jennifer's mother, Tammy Rosian, has dropped everything to take care of her only grandchild.
Reimann said her choices have tormented her.
"I think about what I have done to their family and Summer, she is without a mother," she said. "I put her through a lot. It is very important I have their forgiveness. It's what God says I need to have you know. I want them to know that I am sorry. "
Riemann wanted Action News to take her apology to Tammy Rosian -- an apology Rosian was anxious to see.
"I did feel sorry for her in court," admitted Rosian.
But after watching for several minutes, Rosian broke down in tears and any sympathy was gone.
"I don't see the sincerity. I really don't, I wish I did," she said.
And the more she watched, the more certain she was.
"I think part of her to heal would also have the family to forgive, but when you don't see the sincerity, how can you forgive somebody when you are smiling?" Rosian said. "Oh yeah, you wish it wasn't them and you know you would switch places. I know when I tell you that I would do anything to switch places with Jen so she could have the time with her daughter that I had with mine -- I know people would believe me because they know me and they know how I am. I don't understand. I don't understand how she doesn't get it. She has done so many wrong things."
But Riemann wanting to see Summer rattled Rosian the most of all.
"This clip makes me more angry than any of them," Rosian said, adding that she felt Riemann's promises to change and spread the message of not drinking and driving when she is released are hollow.
"I think if she was let out of jail she would do it again, I really do," she said.
While she does not believe Riemann was sincere, Rosian hopes a lesson has been learned though her own willingness to share Summer's story.
"It would make a big difference because then I would know all the time that I spent out there with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and with Summer's story, being out there, it would make me feel very happy knowing that I did lose Jen for a reason, but at least something good is coming out of it," she said.
In the meantime, Rosian will take her daughter's place -- and raise a little girl we have all come to know.
ENTIRE TRANSCRIPT OF CHERYL RIEMANN INTERVIEW
Sarina: Besides your apology in court to the family, have you tried to reach out?
Riemann: I wrote letters and gave them to my attorney. I hope they have read them, I do not know if they have or haven't but I hope they have.
Sarina: Do you think about Summer and her mom, Jennifer?
Riemann: Yes, I do, everyday. I think about the pain that I put Summer and her grandmother through. The pain that I put their family through. I think about Summer growing up, how she has to live without out her mother. Her scars. I think about the grandma, how she lost her daughter, I could not imagine if I lost one of my kids. I just could not imagine. (Riemann has two boys ages 9 and 11. They are being cared for by a family she says she knows.) I think about what I have done to their family and Summer -- she is without a mother, I put her through a lot."
Riemann: I asked for their forgiveness.
Sarina: Do you think they deserved your forgiveness?
Riemann: I don't know. I don't know. I know it's got to be a hard thing to do they might not forgive me, but maybe in a matter of time, but I pray about that they will forgive me.
Sarina: How important is it to you to gain their forgiveness?
Riemann: It is very important, it is very important. It's what God says I need to have, I know it says in the Bible somewhere that I need to have it. I have to go to those that I harmed and get their forgiveness before I leave this earth. I know it says something like that in the Bible. Yes, it is important. I want them to know that I am sorry.
I can not take away what I have done. But if there is anything I can do to contribute, to make this situation
better, I would be willing to do it -- whatever I can do to contribute back what I have done.
Sarina: Do you remember how much you drank? It was in the middle of the afternoon.
Riemann: I don't remember how much I drank but I know it was a lot. I don't really remember anything. I remember waking up in the hospital and knowing I did something horrible.
Sarina: So you also realized you made a horrible choice?
Riemann: It was a bad choice, it was a big mistake -- it is the worst thing I have done in my life, the worst thing.
Sarina: What message then would you have for other people out there who may have drinks and get in the car?
Reimann: Not to do it. Don't get in the car thinking that nothing is going to happen to you because it doesn't matter if you think you are just a little drunk and I am ok--one little thing and a big accident can happen. I mean do not think it can not happen to you because it can happen to anybody and you are not just jeopardizing yourself, on the road someone else's life is at risk. It's not just you thinking 'oh I am going to be ok.' It's not just you. There are people out there, you know, it is not just you, there are other people out on the road, you have to be thinking of others too.
Sarina: Do you think your story could make a difference in someone's life?
Riemann: Yes, a big difference. Look what I have done to this little girl. If you see pictures of her, it should make anybody not want to get behind the wheel or even think about it, knowing what I caused. She lost a mother -- this whole family, they are suffering day in and day out. I don't even know. I know they are still going through the pain. Just take a look at them. I hope it would want to change someone's mind not to drink and drive."
Sarina: Do you cry a lot over it?
Riemann: I have cried a lot. When I cry, I feel bad. I feel bad, I want the family to know to know I am sorry for what I have done and I feel bad. I am really ashamed of what I have done and how I have hurt Summer and the pain that she has to go through and her scars, and it is not over for her yet. I had less to go through than she did, She has more to go through than I ever will.
Sarina: Is that why you plead guilty, Cheryl, and decided not to go to trial? Did you decide not to put the family through a trial?
Reimann: I knew I did wrong and made a bad choice, a poor decision. To consider trial, that would hurt the family more. I mean I did not even consider taking it to trial because I made a poor decision. I didn't even consider it. I made up my mind to plead guilty, I did not even consider trial."
Sarina: Were you hurt badly in the crash?
Riemann: I was on life support but compared to what Summer went through, I am ok.
Sarina: But, you were injured right?
Riemann: Yes, my back was fractured. My leg jammed. I was bruised up from seatbelts and airbags.
Sarina: But you don't like talking about your injuries.
Riemann: Right, cause its nothing compared to Summer. Everybody always asks were you hurt. No, I am not hurt, its nothing compared to hers.
Sarina: When did you learn you killed someone?
Riemann: They did not tell right me away but I kept asking, Is someone hurt? My family would not tell me only that a bad accident happened and I was in it. I kept asking if someone was hurt or dead. But then they told me and I started going hysterical.
Sarina: What was going through your mind?
Riemann: I kept thinking I can not believe what I have done. Basically, I am going to jail thinking I can not believe what I have done, I also did not accept it right away either. It's one of the hardest things to accept.
Sarina: Do you mean you did not take responsibility?
Riemann: I could not accept the fact that I killed somebody -- I didn't say I was accepting it, I just didn't want to have it. I did not believe I killed somebody. It's hard for me to sit there and say yes. I did that. So I did not accept it for a little bit, it was a hard thing to do.
Sarina: Are you surprised at all the publicity this story has received?
Riemann: At first I was, but not no more. She has seriously been hurt by a drunk driver. It's a message that people need to know What I can do to someone else and what harm it could cause. She is just a little girl. It could have been my little boys. I would not want that to happen to my children or anybody else's child.
Sarina: Do you still crave alcohol?
Riemann: No, I do not crave alcohol.
Sarina: Once you get out do you think you will want to look at a drink again?
Riemann: No, no I am not thinking of alcohol or anything like that. I just think about getting out, getting on my feet helping my mom seeing my kids and living better than I did before.
Sarina: Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel though?
Riemann: Yes, I never give up hope, never.
WHEN SHE SAW SUMMER FOR THE FIRST TIME
Sarina: The first time you ever say Summer was in court when you plead guilty. Did Summer or her grandmother Tammy look
Riemann: Yeah when I read my apology letter. The grandmother was crying and I looked at her and that that was the only contact I really made with the grandma. She looked sad. She looked hurt and sad, she looked hurt. But, I seen Summer and she made my cry and laugh at the same time. She has a really great personality.
Sarina: Could you see, that two and half years later though, she is still hurt?
Riemann: Yes, seeing those injuries it hurt, it hurt. I saw the scars underneath the bandages. I did not realize. I did not realize and then I seen them.
Sarina: Do you think she realized who you were?
Riemann: I saw her look at me a couple off times. Maybe she looked at me as curious you know who is that lady. Like, maybe she knew that I was the lady who did that, you know, did that to her mom.
(Tammy Rosian told me Summer did realize that Riemann was the woman who killed her mother)
Sarina: Was it hard for you to look at Summer? Could you look her in the eye?
Riemann: I was looking at her face and her scars. I was looking at her and what I had done to her. That is what I thought when I looked at her, I just looked at her and think what I done to her.
Sarina: Would you like to talk to Summer?
Riemann: I would like to talk to her if she would want to talk to me ever. I am here. If she ever wants to ask me questions I would be willing. I am not somebody out there getting in trouble everyday. I am not a monster, I just want her to know I am not a monster. I did not set out to hurt her or her mom that day. I made a bad, horrible choice. The worst decision I have ever made. I have hurt a lot of people in this whole accident. Summer, I would tell her how special and strong of a little girl she is I would apologize to them and let them know I was selfish that day. If I could tell Summer, I would tell her I would switch spots with her mom and if God would allow it I would.
Sarina: I know this can be a tough question -- do they deserve your forgiveness?
Riemann: God forgives us, but I hope we can forgive each other. There are a lot of things I don't deserve but if God can forgive me I am hoping they would forgive me. I don't know if I deserve it or not.
Sarina: What would you like to do when you are released?
Riemann: When I get out I will go to schools to make others aware. I pray that others out there don't drink and drive.
Sarina: So, Cheryl, where do you go from here? You are in here for---?
Riemann: I want to be a counselor. I want to be able to counsel people who are going through. I want to be a counselor. I would like to do what you said -- an advocate against drunk drivers. I am not sure how I am going to go about doing all of that, but I would like to share my story with others and make them aware. Too many of us out there think it is not going to happen to us -- it's not true, it can happen to anybody.
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