By Jeff Todd
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – After more than two years of legal maneuvers, a 71-year-old man was sentenced to eight years in prison for hitting and killing a cyclist near Lyons.
“This kind of case is very tragic because it’s related to somebody’s inability to handle alcohol and a very tragic death that resulted in that,” said District Attorney Stan Garnett.
It was May 11, 2013 around 5 p.m. when Patrick Ward was driving his SUV on Main Street and made a left turn into 46-year-old Michel Van Duym. Van Duym’s spine was broken in several places and pronounced dead at the scene.
Ward had been drinking at the American Legion before getting behind the wheel. Prosecutors say Ward had a cup of beer in his car and empty liquor bottles in his center console.
Ward spent two years bouncing between jail and the State Hospital, where he was originally deemed incompetent to stand trial because of a cognitive disability related to a viral infection in his brain. In 2015 doctors reversed the decision and shortly after Ward decided to plead guilty to one count of vehicular homicide.
During the sentencing hearing on Monday Van Duym’s widow called Ward’s act “careless and reckless” and said he “senselessly killed” her husband.
“I had nightmares Michel’s heart was splattered across every road I drive,” she said.
Prosecutors emphasized to the judge Ward took no responsibility despite pleading guilty and called him an “impatient drunk driver.”
Ward’s attorney argued that the past six months, out on bond, proved he can live with probation and doesn’t need to go to prison.
Judge Ingrid Bakke admitted she didn’t know how she would rule coming into the sentencing hearing and admitted Ward was likely “a good man with a serious drinking problem.” But the lack of remorse resonated with her and sentenced the 71-year-old to six more years of prison time. He was given credit for time already served in jail.
“This is an incredibly sad case,” Ward’s attorney said afterward.
“This sentence sends a good message to the community for the importance of road safety, people being careful about how much they have to drink, and the fact we want to keep the community safe,” Garnett said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.