Driver in fatal DUI crash gets 8 years
EAGLE, Colorado A local woman whose passenger died when she crashed a car while trying to escape police on U.S. Highway 6 was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday evening.Candace E. Calvin, 23, of Eagle County, was drunk when driving a friends Honda through Dowd Junction Feb. 22, the Colorado State Patrol said. State troopers saw her speeding and weaving on Interstate 70 and turned on their emergency lights when Calvin got off at the Eagle-Vail exit. Calvin reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour on Highway 6 while trying to escape the troopers.Calvin hit a median and the car rolled through the Highway 6 and William J. Post Boulevard roundabout in Avon. Her passenger, Matthew Lopez, 23, died at the scene.Calvins blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit of .08 for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to an arrest warrant.A graduate of Wheat Ridge High School and Community College of Denver, Lopez moved to the Vail Valley to snowboard and had lived in Avon for six weeks before his death.Theres a huge void in my heart and no amount of penalties will replace my son, said Matthew Lopezs father, Martin Lopez, during a court hearing Monday that lasted nearly five hours. About 20 friends and family members of Matthew Lopez spoke about him to District Court Judge Frederick Gannett. Almost all asked Gannett to sentence Calvin to eight years in prison. About 12 friends and family members spoke about Calvin, who apologized to Lopezs friends and family members for the first time because her public defender, Brian Bradford, said he had told her not to speak about the case. As she looked at Matthew Lopezs friends and family members and sobbed, Calvin said she would give her own life if Matthew Lopez could have his life back. There hasnt been a day thats gone by when I havent thought about you guys, Calvin said. I take on full responsibility for that evening, she said. What I did was wrong. I messed up.Lindsey Lopez, Matthew Lopezs sister, said her brother was always protective of her. Now that [my brother is] gone, Ill have to look after myself and its something I dont think I can do, she said as she cried. About 800 people showed up to Matthew Lopezs funeral, said his mother, Diana Lopez.Your parents have an entire future to look forward to, she told Calvin. We have photographs from the past.But she said her son would not have wanted Calvin to spend decades in prison, so thats why she agreed to a plea deal that Calvin could have gotten out of had Gannett sentenced her to more than eight years, she said. Calvin accepted that deal and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in January. Lee Caretto, Calvins mother, said she felt for the Lopez family and their grief, but that she wanted Calvin to continue to speak to people about the dangers of drinking and driving. Calvin has given several speeches about preventing drunken driving accidents at Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail. I cannot bear the thought of losing my daughter, which they are proposing as punishment, she said. Calvin does not remember what happened the night of the crash, said her public defender, Brian Bradford. After multiple speeding tickets, Calvins license had been suspended in two states at the time of the crash, Gannett said. You took a life and theres just no way that can go unaccounted for, Gannett said. If they choose to, Matthew Lopezs family eventually may ask that the sentence be lowered, said Karen Romeo, assistant Eagle County district attorney.We are very pleased with that sentence, Romeo said.Calvin cried and hugged her family before authorities took her to Eagle County jail. Bradford declined comment on Calvins sentence. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.