WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland man convicted of crashing a stolen truck into the Dover Gardens Tavern in Westlake was sentenced to over three decades in prison.
Brandon Pawlak, 27, stole the truck from an Avon Lake golf club with help from Matthew Sowden, also 27, back in October 2014. Police pursued Pawlak, who sped all the way into Westlake and eventually crashed into the bar, injuring 13 people. Sowden will learn his fate in September.
One of the victims spoke out to 19 Action News after Monday's sentencing.
Bethany Capasso was pinned behind the bar when the truck came crashing through. But she's not letting what happened define her. Instead she's using it as motivation.
Just over nine months ago, Capasso was stuck in a hospital bed.
"My right ankle was dislocated, broke my tibula, fibula. I broke four ribs," she said. "Lacerated my liver, bruised my intestines. My MCL, ACL and meniscus was torn."
She bartended on Thursdays at Dover Gardens Tavern. She won't forget that Thursday night in October anytime soon.
"We were all scared, I was terrified," she said.
Capasso was stuck in a back brace for months and then a wheelchair.
In court on Monday, she watched the man prosecutors say scarred so many lives face a judge.
"It's something different to see someone who's caused so much damage face to face, be able to see that person," she said.
Before the accident, Capasso competed in her first bodybuilding competition. Now she's back to working out. She's determined to compete again. But she's reminded of what happened to her and over a dozen other victims every day.
"It's just something really life-changing. You deal with it from day to day. Some days are worse than others. The pain that I have daily is a reminder of what happened that night," she said.
She says going through surgeries and rehabilitation has made her stronger.
"When I go work out at the gym, a lot of people have told me that I inspire them. And that makes it to me worth it," Capasso said.
She hopes to be able to compete again sometime next year.