Letter: Ackerman case reflects poorly on Grand County
February 18, 2014
To the Editor:
Lucas Ackerman's sentencing is on Feb. 28. It appears from the article in the Sky Hi News that because of the plea bargain, the maximum sentence for Mr. Ackerman will be one year.
The life of a man that was a father, husband, son, friend and an asset to the Estes Park community and who died because of Mr. Ackerman's poor choices is only worth a punishment of 365 days. There are eight children who will have years of growing up without their father's guidance. There is a wife who will enter middle and old age without her life partner. There are parents that will have every holiday with an empty chair as a stark reminder that their son's life was senselessly lost at the hands of a drunken man. There is a church and Scout community that will miss his presence, support and service.
Perhaps the Grand Lake community is not aware of how much time that this family spent on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. They had a boat that was docked at the lake. They had a camper that was used every weekend they were able during the spring, summer and fall seasons. And now, these items have been sold because without their father and husband, it will not be possible to spend their time doing these recreational activities. Would the Westley family be treated so callous if they had lived in Grand County?
Our family also enjoyed camping and day trips to Grand County. We were there that tragic 4th of July night, not realizing that the world had lost one of the good guys. We will not be back. Grand County has sent a clear message that a driver can have an alcohol reading twice the legal limit, have a prior record, put his own family in danger, and not have to take any real responsibility for his actions. If the assistant DA thinks a driver whose blood alcohol limit is over twice the legal limit and that this did not contribute to the death of a man, then Grand County is not a safe place to visit. And Mr. Ng needs to go to the MADD website to read about alcohol impairment.
Judge Hoak cites one of the reasons for tentatively accepting the plea bargain as the unwillingness of the victim's family to testify in court. More harsh treatment from Grand County. Did Judge Hoak ever think that eight children witnessed their father die and the mother is just trying to save them from more trauma?
The plea bargain is not reasonable. Not to the Westley family and not even to the Ackerman family. Ackerman's own daughters were a witness to this horrible offense.