Driver gets probation in two deaths

Man won’t face gallery full of grieving kin, friends

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A driver who accidentally struck and killed two construction workers at the Broadway/C-470 intersection two days before Thanksgiving has pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor careless driving causing death.

Thomas Garrity, 74, of Bellevue, Neb., was driving a Subaru Tribeca, exiting C-470 westbound onto Broadway, when he lost control of the vehicle on the exit ramp, which then rolled onto an embankment and went airborne, striking two workers employed by Concrete Works of Colorado and killing both instantly.

Garrity pleaded guilty June 3, admitting liability in the deaths of Joseph Schwartz, 47, of Morrison, and Jesus Villalobos, 27, of Brighton. He received a deferred sentence and is being placed on two years of probation, in which he will be required to serve 100 hours of community service, take a driving course, pay an undetermined amount in restitution and write apology letters to the families of both victims.

Families, friends and former co-workers of both victims packed District Court Judge Larry Bowling’s courtroom for the disposition hearing. Some were wearing T-shirts memorializing the deceased and 15 statements asking for justice were heard.

Linda Marie James, the mother of Schwartz, was the first to come to the podium.

“When the tragedy occurred, I only felt horror at the event and sympathy for Mr. Garrity,” she said. “This had never been about revenge or money. We only wanted an admission of guilt and for him to realize he could never drive again.

“All that changed at the first hearing. We were all deeply offended. He expressed no regret that he ran down and killed two men. He smirked at the families. He denied fault and he shifted blame. We find his attitude disturbing.”

At question in the cause of the accident was whether or not Garrity’s brakes had given way. According to Trooper Nate Reid, public information officer with the Colorado State Patrol, a standard vehicle inspection done Nov. 27 concluded that there were no mechanical failures with the Subaru leading up to the accident.

The issue most troubling to the family and friends of the victim, however, was the lack of contrition displayed by Garrity throughout the process. It was explained by Bowling that it is typical for defendants to be instructed to abstain from contact with the families of victims in such cases, and when Garrity’s counsel said Garrity “feels extreme remorse and extreme sympathy,” it was received by scoffs and laughter.

After Bowling accepted the plea agreement and clarified that the sentencing was complete, Garrity was given the opportunity to address the court, yet opted for silence. This caused further uproar in the courtroom and Garrity, who refused to turn around, was challenged by multiple people “to be a man, turn around and apologize.”

While Garrity’s plea would result in a 12-point ticket in Colorado, and the revocation of his driver’s license, there is no guarantee that his Nebraska license will be revoked.

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