Driver sentenced in US Highway 6 crash that killed 2 in Dillon
BRECKENRIDGE — Adrian Delgado, 25, of Aurora, was sentenced to 21 months in jail for killing a pair of visitors and severely injuring two others in a crash in Dillon last fall.
In the early morning of Oct. 3, 2019, Delgado swerved his truck into the wrong lane of U.S. Highway 6 in Dillon, near the intersection with Elkhorn Lane, and caused a head-on collision that killed 58-year-old Larry “Mike” Kennedy and 59-year-old Ronnie Suenram. Both of their wives, Cynthia Kennedy and Sherri Suenram, were severely injured in the crash along with Delgado.
The victims were vacationing in Colorado from their homes in Oklahoma.
A post-crash investigation revealed that Delgado was neither intoxicated nor using his phone at the time of the accident but that he likely fell asleep while driving to work.
In July, Delgado pleaded guilty to a pair of Class 1 traffic offenses of careless driving resulting in death and injury.
Family members spaced themselves out inside a courtroom at the Summit County Justice Center on Tuesday, Sept. 29 — almost exactly a year after the crash — to speak at Delgado’s sentencing hearing.
Deputy District Attorney Kylie Whitaker opened up the proceedings by showing pictures of the men and their families and asking Summit County Judge Edward Casias to consider the impacts of the crash that will ripple throughout the rest of the survivors’ lives, along with the rest of the Kennedy and Suenram families.
Whitaker called the incident completely avoidable, noting that Delgado was driving 19 miles over the speed limit and was likely asleep at the wheel at the time of the accident. She also pointed to the devastating outcome of the crash and asked the judge to hand down a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Family members of Kennedy and Suenram echoed Whitaker’s request and offered moving statements about their loved ones and the ongoing challenges they face on a daily basis.
Sherri Suenram, in a statement delivered by her cousin, described a long list of surgeries, procedures and physical therapy that she’s undergone in the past year to combat her debilitating injuries. She also described her traumatic memories of the crash and voiced deep sorrow at the death of her husband.
“His words to his surgeon were, ‘If I don’t make it, please tell my wife that I love her very much,’” Suenram wrote in the statement. “Those words were told to me by (the doctor) several days later when I came out of a coma. I will never forget sitting there in the room along with my nurse and my parents who were sobbing as the (the doctor) told me Ronnie was gone. My life stopped being normal from then on. … (Delgado) took my best friend, my soul mate, my traveling partner, my everything. Ronnie was the most kind and gentle man there was. I miss him every single day.”
Cynthia Kennedy said she and her family also would anguish over Mike’s death for the rest of their lives and lamented the opportunities they lost.
“Mike’s daughter won’t have the privilege of having her dad walk her down the aisle when the time comes,” Kennedy said. “His grandkids, when those come along, won’t have the physical presence of their grandfather. He was a best friend of almost everyone he spoke to, so his presence is very much missed not just by me but by many.”
Numerous members of Delgado’s family also came to voice their support, characterizing Delgado as a family man, a loyal friend and a good person who simply made a mistake.
Delgado’s attorney Stacey Shobe urged the judge to consider mitigating factors in the case, such as Delgado’s lack of criminal history and his willingness to take full responsibility for his actions. She called for a restorative justice sentence, noting that Delgado was an otherwise upstanding member of the community, who holistically supported his family and hadn’t made life choices to merit incarceration.
Delgado also spoke for himself, offering an earnest apology to everyone he hurt.
“I wish I could give you a detailed statement on what happened the day the accident occurred,” Delgado said. “But unfortunately, I have no memory of that day. To this day, I’m trying to put the pieces together and figure out how it is I ended up in this place and how it was possible I’d caused so much harm. …
“I think about what my wife would do if I was the one who died and the sadness and grief she would feel. What would happen to my kids? Who would take care of them and guide them? I’m so sorry I took that from your kids. I’m so sorry that because of this accident you no longer have your life partners, and you’re no longer able to share your dreams and accomplishments. I’m truly sorry.”
Casias ultimately sentenced Delgado to 21 months in the county jail. He granted a 30-day stay on the order because the jail is currently closed due to staffing concerns related to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.
Delgado also will have to complete 200 hours of community service over the next year. Casias recommended Alive at 25, an education course that teaches responsible behaviors to young drivers.
“The hard part is that under different circumstances, although these families are different, they probably all could have been friends,” Casias said. “They’re good people. … It’s hard to move forward with what I have to do. But more importantly, it’s hard to live with the loss that everyone is. That’s the most tragic part of this.”
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