GRAND LAKE, Colo. (CBS4)– The 4th of July holiday is difficult for a family who lost their son on Independence Day last year as he was leaving a fireworks show in Grand Lake.

The family was walking along Highway 34 when they were struck. Greg Westley, 50, died. His wife Debbie was flown to a hospital along with three of their children. Their five other children weren’t injured.

Gregory Westley (credit: CBS)

Gregory Westley (credit: CBS)

Lucas Ackerman is accused of crashing into the family, but a controversial decision by the district attorney has upset the Westley family. The DA will reduce the charges against Ackerman to one misdemeanor count of DUI and one misdemeanor count of child abuse.

Almost everything in the mountains reminds Greg’s parents of their son.

“He loved being in the outdoors,” said Greg’s father Bill Westley.

If they see someone fishing, it brings back memories of Greg’s love for the sport. A family out on the water enjoying boating makes them think of the days Greg and his eight children spent cruising mountain lakes.

“He very much enjoyed his children, every aspect of being a father,” said Bill.

The towering mountains conjure holiday camping trips. It was the family’s trip to Grand Lake last year for the 4th of July that changed their life forever.

“He did not intentionally want to kill Greg but he made a very poor decision,” said Greg’s mother Connie Westley.

Police said the man who struck them, Ackerman, had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.

“No driver, not you, not me, not anyone, could have stopped their vehicle in time to avoid this collision,” said 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey.

Lucas Ackerman (credit: Grand Lake Sheriff)

Lucas Ackerman (credit: Grand Lake Sheriff)

Barkey cites the conclusion of the Colorado State Patrol after the accident that the driver’s BAC did not cause the accident.

“The DUI collision was not the cause, therefore I felt uncomfortable proceeding on felony counts to Mr. Ackerman,” said Barkey.

“Greg’s death never occurred as far as the court is concerned,” said Bill.

Ackerman is scheduled to be in court next week to face reduced charges that include misdemeanor

The Westleys still don’t know how to reconcile the lesser charges with the loss of the son they loved so much.

“He was my best friend, yep, that’s true,” said Bill.


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