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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: fatal crashes

Witnesses sought in fatal Cheney crash

A man killed in a single-car rollover crash Saturday southeast of Cheney has been identified as Eric Henager, 24.

Detectives have not determined who was driving the 2005 Subaru Outback in which Henager was found dead at 2:22 a.m.  on Cheney-Spangle Road, just south of Curtis Road, Spokane County sheriff's Cpl. Dave Thornburg said late Monday.

Officials say alcohol is believed to be a factor.

Mark Russo, 24, of Cameron Park, Calif., was injured in the crash, but officials don't know who was driving, Thornburg said.

Detectives hope two women who were given a ride home from the men just before the crash will come forward, as well as anyone else who may have been the vehicle that night.

Thornburg believes the men were coming from either Wild Bill's Longbar or Goofy's Tavern in Cheney before dropping the women off, Thornburg said. Anyone with information is asked to call Thornburg at (509) 477-2710.

Man gets 50+ years for fatal DUI crash

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A construction worker who killed a promising rookie pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels and two other people in a horrific drunken driving crash said Wednesday he had all but ended his own life that night by getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Andrew Gallo, 24, (above and right) acknowledged his deadly mistake to the grieving relatives of his victims and said he expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars before a judge sentenced him to 51 years to life in prison.

“I know whatever I say will not change anything or the way you think or feel about me,” said Gallo, who faced the judge because he was not permitted to look at the courtroom audience.

“You're right. I am a horrible person, a drunk driver who took your beautiful kids away,” he said.

Gallo was convicted in September of three counts of second-degree murder and single counts of drunken driving, hit-and-run driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol and causing great bodily injury.

 Judge Richard F. Toohey gave Gallo 15 years to life on each of the murder counts and six additional years for the other crimes.

Prosecutors said Gallo, who was on parole for a felony DUI conviction, had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit when he blew through a red light at 65 mph on April 9, 2009, and T-boned the car carrying pitcher Nick Adenhart (pictured below) and three friends.

Also killed were 20-year-old Courtney Stewart and 25-year-old Henry Pearson. A fourth passenger, Jon Wilhite had his spine separated from his skull by the impact and survived.

 “Enjoy your life in that cage in which you belong, because you are no longer here on Earth,” Wilhite said in a letter to Gallo that was read aloud in court. “I can assure you are headed to a much darker place.”

Scores of people attended the hearing, including relatives of the victims who clutched giant, smiling photos of their loved ones. They pleaded with Toohey to sentence Gallo to life.

“I am hollow inside. I will never be the same,” said Stewart's mother, Carrie Stewart-Dixon. “I pray to God every day to bring her back.”

Adenhart's family sent a letter saying his parents hoped the sentence would bring some peace to their dead son, but justice could never be achieved.

“There is no balancing of the scales. There is no justice so long as Mr. Gallo is drawing breath,” the letter said.

Prosecutors said Gallo drank beer and shots at three different bars with his stepbrother before driving off in the family minivan. Jurors saw a videotaped interview in which he told police he didn't remember driving that night and apologized to the victims' families.

Defense attorney Jacqueline Goodman had asked that Gallo be given just one sentence of 15 years to life, saying he never intended to hurt anybody.

“I don't think he should be treated like a cold-blooded killer,” she said after the hearing. “I don't think he's irredeemable.”

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said his office has won 49 convictions for drunk driving homicides since 2008. With the holidays approaching, he urged residents to remember this case as they celebrate.

“There's just no good in this, there's just no good in this kind of thing anywhere,” he said. “It's all tragic.”

Mont. crash sends Spokane man to prison

SUPERIOR, Mont. — A 41-year-old Spokane man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a June 2008 drunken driving crash in western Montana that killed his friend.

David L. Gunning, 41, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while under the influence. He was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison with 20 suspended by District Judge Douglas Harkin.

The crash in Mineral County killed Gunning’s passenger, Lester Chandler, of Airway Heights.

The two men were on their way to a swimming hole when Gunning lost control of the vehicle.

Gunning has convictions in Spokane County for possession of methamphetamine and third-degree retail theft.

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