A Carson City man was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison Tuesday for being drunk when he slammed into a car in August killing an 84-year-old grandmother and critically injuring her 67-year-old daughter.
A tearful Gerald Horine, 47, apologized to the family of Wretha Wright, 84, and Mary Blueberg, 67, during the hearing held before District Court Judge Bill Maddox.
"I had no right to affect your lives the way I did. To the Wright family, I'm so very, very sorry for causing the death of your mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and taking her before her time. If I could I would trade places with her," he said.
According to court records, on Aug. 19 Horine lost control of his 2001 BMW on Fairview Drive just south of the Fifth Street roundabout and slammed head-on into a 2001 Cadillac driven by Blueberg.
Wright, Blueberg's mother, was pronounced dead at the scene. Blueberg suffered numerous injuries including crushed vertebrea, and spent weeks in the hospital.
The state employee was on his way to play golf after a night of drinking, said Assistant District Attorney Gerald Gardner. Blueberg and Wright were on their way to church, taking the same route the mother and daughter had driven every Sunday morning for years.
"When something like this happens to you, it consumes your whole family. The world stops," said Richard Blueberg, Mary's husband. "When your wife of 45 years is hurt by somebody, you would like to deal with it yourself, but you have to trust the legal system to take care of it for you. That's what the Blueberg family is going to do here, they are going to trust that the legal system does work."
Richard Blueberg said his wife suffered crushed vertebrae in her back and neck, three broken ribs, and a severely broken leg in the crash that killed her mother.
"There's a hill behind our house that we'd walk up to keep physically fit. She can't do that anymore," he said. "She'll never be the same. Never.
"Worst of all, you took the matriarch of our family."
Richard Blueberg also spoke of his concern over a light sentence for Horine.
"There are thousands of people killed every year in our country by drunk drivers and it seems to me like it keeps happening because the penalties aren't stiff enough. I just feel that the beats gonna go on," he said.
Horine's attorney Jerry Dunn asked that Maddox show his client mercy because he'd never been in trouble before or in the eight months he'd been on house arrest. Dunn also noted his client was more remorseful than any other client before him.
"During the period of time that Mr. Horine has had a problem with alcohol, there's been no intervention, there's been no negative contacts. In essence he was a functioning alcoholic," he said.
But assistant prosecutor Gardner requested that Maddox sentence Horine to what the Division of Parole and Probation requested in a presentence report - 32 months to 144 months in prison.
"On the Sunday morning when this happened, and the defendant chose to get behind the wheel after a night of hard drinking, they were on their way to church and obviously they didn't make it there," said Gardner. "Wretha Wright was 84 years old when she was killed in this accident - and it wasn't an accident - when she was killed in this crime. This case very painfully shows just how violent and horrendous the nature of drunk driving can be. It's not an accident, it's a crime of wanton, reckless disregard for the lives and well-being of other people."
Maddox sentenced Horine to a longer minimum than requested by the prosecutor. He must serve at least four years before being eligible for parole and pay restitution of more than $100,000.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.