Pinellas man who crashed car into home, killing 2, gets 27 years in prison

A Palm Harbor man who crashed a Tesla into a home, killing a woman in the house and one of his passengers, was sentenced to 27 years in prison Monday.

Vaughn W. Mongan, 45, had pleaded guilty in March to two counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury.

Mongan was driving at least 116 mph on Manning Road in Palm Harbor on Sept. 3, 2021, when he sped through a stop sign at a T intersection and hit a grassy embankment. He crashed through a fence and into the home at 1498 Caird Way. The speed limit on the road was 30 mph.

The Tesla belonged to Travis Meisman of Odessa, who was a passenger and died in the crash.

Donna Rein, 69, who was inside the home, also was killed, as was her dog, Lily.

Three other passengers in the car were seriously injured, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Court records show that the passengers sued Mongan and Meisman’s estate, but voluntarily dismissed the lawsuits last summer.

Mongan was arrested about a month after the crash.

As part of Mongan’s plea deal, Judge Chris Helinger agreed that Mongan would be sentenced to no more than 40 years in prison, even though he could have received as much as a life sentence. Sentencing guidelines recommended a minimum of just over 26 years in prison, attorneys said.

Mongan’s defense attorney, Barry Taracks, called experts and character witnesses — including two of the surviving passengers — to make the case that his client should receive less than the sentencing guideline minimum. Taracks said that Mongan did not realize how powerful the vehicle was, and that he has shown remorse for his actions.

Taracks said he will be reviewing the sentence, which was roughly the minimum number of years in prison recommended by the sentencing guidelines. He said he believes the court erred in its ruling, but acknowledged the seriousness of what occurred.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” he said.

Assistant state attorney Alexandra Spadaro said that she has gotten to know the families and friends of the two people who died and recognizes the tragedy they’ve been through.

“My heart goes out to all of them,” she said. “There’s no amount of time that will take away the pain of losing Travis and Donna, but I’m thankful the court did not depart from the bottom of the guidelines.”