A woman involved in an accident last October in which two people were killed was sentenced to jail Wednesday on drunken driving and other charges.
Judge James Garrecht sentenced Sarah Jean Burt, 20, of Steamboat Springs, to two years in Routt County Jail on four charges: two drunken driving charges plus earlier charges of third-degree assault and harassment.
The most recent driving under the influence arrest took place July 3, while Burt was on probation for the assault and harassment charges. Burt was pulled over for running a stop sign and was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.123, according to court files.
The earlier DUI took place Oct. 13, 2002, the night of the fatal accident. Because no evidence was found that Burt was driving at the time of the wreck, Deputy District Attorney Erick Knaus said that Burt could not be charged with vehicular homicide.
Charges for the October 2002 DUI were not filed until May 2003 because of a lengthy investigation that followed the accident, Knaus said.
Burt pleaded guilty to both DUI charges.
On Oct. 13, 2002, Burt and three other people were driving north on Colorado Highway 131 after leaving a party near State Bridge. Their sport utility vehicle went out of control and rolled into a ditch at mile marker 35.5 just north of Toponas.
Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brad Keadle concluded at the time of the accident that Adam Nollman, 24, of Silverthorne was driving. Burt and another passenger, Cheyne Gallagher, 22, of Steamboat Springs were sitting in the back seat, according to the State Patrol's initial report.
Nollman and Gallagher were thrown from the car and died. Burt and another passenger, Daniel Carver, 18, of Stagecoach, were injured. No one was wearing a seat belt.
In the investigation that followed, witnesses told investigators that Burt was driving when the group left the party and that she was intoxicated at the time, Knaus said. However, there was no conclusive evidence that Burt was still in the driver's seat at the time of the accident, he said.
Carver told investigators he didn't remember what happened that night, Knaus said. Burt told investigators the same thing, but recently said during an insurance investigation that she remembered she was not driving, Knaus said.
Bruce Gallagher, the father of victim Cheyne Gallagher, wrote an emotional e-mail to the court on behalf of his family saying he believed Burt was responsible for the accident.
"We know nothing can bring our son and brother back to us," Bruce Gallagher wrote. "Please, please impose the strongest sentence the law allows on this girl."
Burt's mother, Tammy McDermott, wrote a letter asking the court to let Burt serve her sentence in facilities that would be a "positive influence" on her.
Garrecht sentenced Burt, who represented herself, to one year in jail for the two DUIs, two years for a 2002 third-degree assault charge, and six months for a 2001 harassment charge.
The sentences will run concurrently. Garrecht also ordered Burt to pay court fines and charges. "I think for somebody like you, I wish I had better options," Garrecht said to Burt, who was crying.
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