Craig man sentenced for drunk driving rollover involving 3 children
January 20, 2017
Craig — A man who rolled his vehicle in June while driving drunk with three kids inside was convicted of driving under the influence and received a deferred sentence on vehicular assault this week.
Jerrad Carney, 31, was sentenced to 75 days in jail and a lengthy list of terms he must meet for four years in order to avoid earning himself the label of "convicted felon."
The accident occurred June 4, 2016 at Elkhead Reservoir when Carney's 1997 Chevy Suburban skidded off the right side of the roadway on a curve, flipped onto its roof and skidded down an embankment before coming to a stop. At least one of the juveniles was wearing a safety belt, according to the warrantless arrest affidavit.
Two of the juveniles received minor injuries consisting of bruising, cuts and a bloody nose and the third, Carney's 13-year-old daughter — who was wearing a seatbelt — suffered compression fractures in six thoracic vertebrae and fractured an additional vertebrae.
"She was in a wheelchair for five weeks and she was in a back brace for three months… I thank God every day she can walk because it was pretty close," said the girl's mother, Misty Ross, Carney's ex-wife. "She's very lucky she's not paralyzed, but they're hoping for the best… She's still in pain."
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Carney initially admitted he'd been drinking all day but told officers someone else named "Josh" was driving and convinced the kids to corroborate his story.
Carney was originally charged with six counts of child abuse that were dismissed by the 14th Judicial District Attorney's office. Carney pled guilty to both the DUI and vehicular assault charges. By offering Carney a deferred sentence on the felony vehicular assault charge, the DA hopes to offer him a chance to prove his successful rehabilitation and avoid having a felony conviction on his record.
The terms of the deferred sentence subject Carney to four years supervised probation, random drug and alcohol tests and an alcohol and substance abuse evaluation. He cannot consume drugs or alcohol for four years, and he must also pay his child support, maintain full-time employment or enrollment in school or a vocational training program, and pay restitutions, the amount of which the DA is still calculating.
"Here's one of the challenges in this case… You have competing priorities, as you want to hold this guy appropriately accountable, but these things happen to families, to people that have children," said Assistant District Attorney Matt Karzen.
Carney is remarried with three children, two step-children and a baby on the way.
"It puts their fate in their hands," Karzen said of the deferred sentence. "The balance there is he pleads guilty to the felony, but we dangle that over his head for the next four years… If you can behave yourself for next four years and we believe you'll be rehabilitated, you can escape the label of convicted felon."
Ross said she believes the outcome is hardly enough.
"No matter what you decide in sentencing this matter, it won't take back all the hurt and tears this accident caused my daughter," Ross said in a statement to the judge. "In my eyes, I don't think he learned his lesson."