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Cape Coral father sentenced to 22 years for deadly canal crash

Deputies say he made no mention of attempting to rescue his two children, even though someone else nearby was in the canal trying to get them out.
Kenneth Lawson
Posted at 11:33 AM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 11:48:50-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — A man was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Wednesday for a deadly Cape Coral crash on November 25, 2020.

Deputies say Kenneth Wayne Lawson made no mention of attempting to rescue his children, even though someone else nearby was in the canal trying to get them out, according to reports.

Lawson, 29, drove his girlfriend's 2014 white Ford Focus into a canal in

Lawson and his girlfriend Julia Drudy got out of the canal and left his two sons, 7 and 10-years-old, submerged in the vehicle.

Police say the two walked up soaking wet as first responders worked to rescue his children.

Deputies say they could smell alcohol on Lawson and that his speech was slurred.

Lawson and Drudy gave conflicting stories about what happened, including scenarios of carjacking, robbery, and road rage.

There were no signs of the vehicle braking or steering away from the canal.

The brush below at the canal was not disturbed upon entry, which shows the vehicle projected, according to reports.

Once the car was retrieved from the canal, deputies found skin transfer from a knee strike on the interior that occurred on impact. At the hospital, they noticed Lawson, who was wearing shorts, had injuries consistent with this type of mark. Drudy was wearing jeans, according to reports.

Lawson eventually recanted his numerous carjacking stories and said Drudy was driving. He said he had not been drinking. Lawson admitted that his license out of Michigan was suspended.

Drudy also recanted the carjacking stories. She told police she let Lawson drive her work vehicle on their date night, even though she knew for months that he did not have a license.

Drudy admitted they stopped at a liquor store. She said they had been drinking throughout the evening and looking for alligators at several canals, according to reports.

Both had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit.

Medical personnel told police the marks on Drudy were consistent with a passenger seatbelt.

Lacerations on Lawson were consistent with kicking out the windshield above the driver’s seat, where he and Drudy admittedly escaped the vehicle.

On Dec. 4, officers arrested Lawson. He is facing two charges of DUI manslaughter.

Drudy was also arrested and is facing charges of Permitting an Unauthorized Operator to Drive.

Both suffered only minor injuries in the crash.