SPARTANBURG Co., S.C. (WSPA) – A Spartanburg man will spend 40 years behind bars for his role in a crash that killed an 11-year-old boy.

The February crash on Highway 9 in Spartanburg County killed Ethan Rubenzer. His mother, Patricia Rubenzer, was driving him to school when they were hit by Michael Eugene Kelley’s car near the Bird’s Eye View intersection.

Kelley, 30, pleaded guilty to felony driving under the influence with death, felony driving under the influence with great bodily injury and driving under suspension, according to the Seventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He also pleaded guilty to six drug charges that were pending when the crash happened.

Troopers with the S.C. Highway Patrol said they smelled marijuana on Kelley after the crash. Troopers found a small bag of marijuana was found in his car. A blood test showed the drug in Kelley’s system.

The unrelated drug charges were the result of an investigation by the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office in the fall of 2017. Deputies utilized an undercover informant to make multiple heroin purchases from Kelley at a Phifer Drive home. Quantities of marijuana and fentanyl were also recovered during the investigation, according to the solicitor’s office.

Circuit Judge Keith Kelly issued a 25-year prison sentence for felony driving under the influence with a death and a consecutive 15-year prison sentence for distribution of fentanyl, according to the release.

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