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Commissioners Approve Early Release For Kimball

October 31, 1990

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A former Olympic diver sentenced to 17 years in prison for a drunken driving accident that killed two teen-agers will be released in 1993 after serving less than five years.

The Florida Parole Commission voted Tuesday to release Bruce Kimball on Nov. 24, 1993. That date is fixed unless his case is brought back to the commission for disciplinary action by the Department of Corrections, parole spokeswoman Ruth Anne Reese said.

Kimball has so far served about 22 months for the Aug. 1, 1988, accident in which he crashed into a group of teen-agers on a dead-end road in Brandon. Robbie Bedell, 19, and Kevin Gossic, 16, were killed. Three other teens were seriously injured.

Kimball, a silver medalist in 1984, was in training for the 1988 games. At the time of the accident, he had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit.

Parole Commissioner Anabel Mitchell noted that Kimball, who was not present Tuesday, has expressed remorse, undergone treatment and received public support for an immediate release.

″If he serves 100 years it’s not going to bring back the lives of those two young people,″ she said.

A glitch in the Parole Board’s computer system prevented the agency from mailing requests for comment on the parole decision to some victims, but the Bedell family returned a questionnaire and attended Tuesday’s hearing.

″I wanted them to see that these are not just faceless people,″ Terry Bedell said. ″They sit there and they listen to thousands of these cases and to them its just a number. I mean, he didn’t hurt my car, he killed my son.″

But another victim’s relative has said he wished he’d been invited to share his thoughts with the commissioners.

″I would’ve written a note recommending his release if I’d known,″ Raymond Kerker said Monday. Kerker, whose son R.J. was nearly crippled in the accident, said he has been corresponding with Kimball and has forgiven him.

″That man’s son is alive,″ Mrs. Bedell said Tuesday. ″Maybe if my son was alive I could say the same thing, but I can’t right now.″

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