ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A Chugiak motorist was sentenced to seven years in prison for running down a couple walking home from a New Year's Eve concert.
Tex Daniels II was sentenced Thursday to eight years, with one year suspended, by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Philip Volland, the Anchorage Daily News reported (http://is.gd/ynaAD4 ).
Daniels pleaded guilty in May to felony assault and misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol in the incident that seriously injured a woman and her boyfriend on a downtown street.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dismissed a second assault charge and a misdemeanor count of leaving an accident without offering assistance.
Ashley Brotherton, a special education teacher at Denali Montessori School, and Clayton Wilbanks, an employee at a car rental business, had moved from Colorado to Anchorage a few months before the crash. On New Year's Eve, they attended a concert by the band Pepper and were walking home after midnight.
Daniels lost control of his pickup truck as he tried to pass another vehicle, jumped the curb and barreled onto the sidewalk at 50 to 60 mph. Prosecutors said he hit the couple from behind and the truck spun into a snow bank. Witnesses said he tried to drive away but was restrained by passers-by until police officers arrived.
Alcohol in Daniels' blood registered at .226, nearly three times the .08 at which a driver is presumed drunk under Alaska law.
Brotherton suffered a broken neck, skull fractures and brain swelling. Wilbanks had a lacerated scalp and spleen and his nose was broken.
They temporarily returned to Colorado but have moved back to Anchorage, they said at the hearing.
Brotherton said she can only work half days, which leave her exhausted, and suffers from lingering nerve pain. She worries she isn't the same teacher she was before the accident.
The couple said they can't yet hike, cross-country ski or run - things they moved to Alaska to do.
"Ashley and I are no longer the people we used to be," Wilbanks said.
Daniels cried at times during the hearing. He said the knowledge that he had hurt the couple was "by far the worst feeling in the world."
He said he has undergone alcohol treatment and would be happy to never drink again.
"If afternoons like this ever stop breaking my heart, I should quit being a judge," Volland said after hearing testimony from the victims and Daniels.
Daniels' public defender had sought a seven-year sentence with half the time suspended, but Volland said the speed of the truck, Daniels' level of intoxication, and his attempt to flee played a role in the longer sentence.
Daniels will be nearly 30 when he's released from prison. He said he would like to be a mechanic, start a family and share his story with others.