Family of father killed by drunk driver get Christmas surprise from FHP

The holiday season delivered a nightmare to a Golden Gate Estates family two years ago.

This year, many of their Christmas dreams came true.

The Florida Highway Patrol brought Jessica Riner and her four sons to HeadPinz Bowling Center in south Fort Myers and surprised them with personalized gifts. Cecil Riner, the father of the family, was killed in a crash caused by drunken driver on Dec. 12, 2015.

“The hardest thing for me was thinking that people were going to forget Cecil.” Jessica Riner said. “… When I see things this, I realize how many people he did help and how many people he did touch.”

Landen, 14, got a University of Alabama football shirt signed by coach Nick Saban. Younger brother Garret got a new BMX bike to replace one that was stolen from him. Braden got a BMX bike, too.

And Carsen, who loves chickens and pigs, was presented with a dozen live, chirping baby chicks.

“As troopers, this tugs at our hearts everyday when we see these types of tragedies on the road. This family especially touched our hearts,” FHP Lt. Greg Bueno said. “Two years later, we still think about them, and we wanted to do something special.”

The generosity from the FHP and local businesses extended to Meagan, Cecil’s niece, who got her very own princess dress.

For Jessica, it was a table full of gift cards and a heartfelt expression from Bueno.

“No words can explain what, I’m sure, Jessica has gone through as a mother and a wife,” he said. “Our hearts break for you. I wish there was anything in this world to make that different.”

Rene Miles, the driver who caused the crash, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after his conviction on DUI manslaughter and other charges.

But Thursday, as the Riner children tore into the stacks of wrapped presents they got on top of their custom gifts, the focus was on a family and a community that rallied to their side.

“I really don’t know if I’d still be here if it wasn’t for everybody and all the things they’ve done,” Jessica said.