Driver in 2017 fatal crash south of Kremmling gets prison sentence
HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS — Nearly a year-and-a-half after he was initially arrested on charges of vehicular homicide, Denver resident Brandon Wilson learned his fate in court on Thursday.
Fourteenth Judicial District Court Judge Mary Hoak sentenced Wilson to five years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, the maximum sentence he faced in the case. The sentence was handed down after Wilson pleaded guilty to one count of reckless vehicular homicide and one count of driving under the influence as part of a plea agreement that limited his potential prison time.
The guilty plea and sentencing came after emotional court proceedings that included comments from Wilson, his legal counsel, the district attorney’s office, Hoak and two of the victims in the case.
“This is the biggest regret of my life,” Wilson told Hoak, his voice shaking as he struggled to contain his emotions. “Words cannot explain how much regret and remorse I have. Every morning I wake up and wish I could go back and change the events of that day. I take full responsibility and I am sorry we all have to be here under these circumstances. I am ready to accept what the court finds just.”
Speaking on behalf of Wilson was the widow of Brian Ward, the man whose death led to Wilson’s vehicular homicide charge, who told the court that she did not blame Wilson for what happened.
Ward and Wilson were close friends and were traveling together in the same vehicle on Highway 9 south of Kremmling in August 2017. According to law enforcement reports at the time, Wilson was driving northbound on Highway 9 when he pulled onto the northbound shoulder of the highway and proceeded to make a u-turn into the southbound lane. As he did a pickup truck driving behind Wilson struck the driver’s side of his vehicle.
The collision resulted in Ward’s death, as well as injuries for the other occupants of Wilson’s vehicle and occupants of the second vehicle. A horse being hauled in a trailer by the pickup truck was also injured.
Hoak stressed the difficulty of the decision regarding Wilson’s sentence. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Wilson could receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
“This is a terrible case, that I have agonized about,” Hoak said. “While I may not have done here what the victims wanted I heard them. My heart breaks for them.”
Hoak said she felt duty bound to impose the sentence she chose because of the seriousness of the crimes committed by Wilson. Her comments came in light of the fact that the Ward family and other victims in the case, who are friends of Wilson, had previously supported a lesser sentence.
“I cannot tell this community that this is OK,” Hoak said. “People need to understand that you cannot take a life and walk away.”
Hoak said she believed Wilson did not need rehabilitation, that he would not commit further crimes in his life and that the support shown by his friends and family, including the victims in the case, were evidence that he would succeed in life after completing his sentence.
“At some point you have to move forward,” Hoak said to Wilson. “Once you serve your sentence you need to forgive yourself. In my opinion you owe it to Brian Ward to live your life. It is a terrible thing that happened here but from what I know Brian would want you to live your life and do the things he didn’t get to do.”
After reading Wilson’s sentence, Hoak noted that he would not serve the entirety of the five years and that he would most likely be released early for good behavior. Wilson, who has remained out on bond as his case proceeded, was remanded into custody at the end of the hearing.
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