The man who slammed into Cortez City Councilor Mike Lavey’s Toyota pickup in January while driving intoxicated was granted a deferred judgment – likely limiting his time in jail – after Lavey asked the man to seek treatment and turn his life around during his sentencing.
This means Logan Vigil will serve minimal jail time, 20 days, if he follows through on community service and alcohol treatment requirements set by the court.
The ruling was issued Tuesday, about seven months after the crash. The sentencing hearing involved emotional testimony from both Vigil and Lavey, 76, who did not seek extreme punishment, but instead wanted the defendant to reflect on the consequences of his choices and make a life change.
“I would like the defendant to realize the consequences of the actions to choose to drink and drive that Monday afternoon,” Lavey said. “I would like to see the court impose significant community service, as well as a requirement of the defendant being ordered to participate in substance-abuse programming. I would like to receive a letter of apology from the defendant.
“Hopefully, whatever requirements imposed upon the defendant will have a lasting effect on him, will change his life, and will never cause this much harm and trauma again.”
Vigil did receive a mandatory driving under the influence conviction, and will serve 20 days in the Montezuma County Jail. This was his second alcohol-related offense.
The crash occurred Monday, Jan. 28, at East Empire Street and Colorado Highway 145 at around 3:57 p.m. A plumbing truck driven by Vigil, now 33, was southbound on Highway 145 when it collided with a Toyota pickup truck driven by Lavey, who was turning left onto westbound East Empire Street.
That evening, Lavey was flown from Southwest Memorial Hospital to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction. He suffered broken ribs and underwent surgery on a broken hand, and spent five weeks recovering at the Grand Junction hospital.
The Toyota truck was totaled, Lavey said.
Vigil tested for a blood-alcohol content level of 0.202 at the time of the offense, according to Will Furse, district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District.
At the hearing Tuesday, Furse emphasized that the crash had significantly impacted Lavey’s life, but the victim nevertheless was still in favor of the 24-month deferred judgment.
“I will note that despite the significant trauma that Mr. Lavey and his family have experienced, they do not appear before your honor as vindictive or wanting severe punishment,” Furse said.
While reading his letter, Lavey spoke of the incident’s impact to himself and his wife, who served as his primary caregiver while he was injured.
“Since the accident, the physical and emotional toll has been enormous to both me and my family,” Lavey said. “I had been an extremely active and community-driven person. The injuries I sustained have for the most part destroyed my ability to continue to thoroughly enjoy life.”
Lavey is still recovering, and the mobility and strength of his dominant right hand is now limited after undergoing three surgeries.
Kelly McCabe, who represented Vigil as his defense attorney, pointed to the positive steps his client had taken since the crash. Vigil has been sober since the event, and has been taking Alcoholics Anonymous classes, in addition to participating in therapy treatment, McCabe said.
“He has done more than – I can say this in all honesty – any client I’ve ever had,” McCabe said. “He started immediately the day after this happened.”
He also noted what he called were “extremely mitigating circumstances” in the case – including that his client was traveling southbound on 145 in the outside lane, that Lavey turned in front of Vigil, and that Vigil had stepped on the brakes 91 feet before Lavey’s truck.
McCabe acknowledged that Vigil was traveling faster than the posted speed limit, although he said the speed estimates were somewhat conflicting, ranging from 52 to 70 mph.
“I think that those facts are important to understanding the deferred judgment, and our request the court accept the deferred judgment in this case,” McCabe said.
Vigil too read aloud a letter he had written, expressing regret and a commitment to turn his life around.
“As a man with two sons and a fiancée, my world revolves around my family,” he said. “I deeply let them down with my decision to drink and drive on Jan. 28, 2019. It breaks my heart that physical harm was done to Mr. Lavey that afternoon.”
He also spoke about how the incident had impacted his own life.
“I deeply hurt and let down the ones I absolutely love the most in life, as well as dropped financial distress upon my family, and that is not the family man I want to be,” Vigil said.
Because of the crash, Vigil lost his job at Sparks Plumbing and Heating, but he’s now opened his own small business doing sewer and drain cleaning and handyman work, he said.
Montezuma County District Court Judge Todd Plewe presided over the hearing. He directed Vigil to listen to Lavey, and to appreciate the victim’s dignity in this matter.
“Not a lot of victims handle themselves in that way,” Plewe said. “They come to court and really want to see a tremendous amount of punishment for someone who has done harm to them. That’s certainly understandable, and I would understand if Mr. Lavey felt that way. But I just want to recognize that he has handled himself very well.”
He added that the deferred judgment would probably not be possible without Lavey’s “view on this case.”
Plewe did note that Vigil’s high alcohol level just before 4 p.m. in the afternoon was concerning and indicative of a severe problem.
In the case of the mandatory DUI conviction, Plewe said he would normally issue a more severe sentence considering the circumstances, but because of the positive steps Vigil has so far taken, he would limit the time to 20 days in county jail. McCabe said that Vigil would start his jail time on Aug. 28.
Other conditions of the ruling include 24 months of probation, a victim impact panel, outpatient therapy, alcohol and mental health treatment, 80 hours of useful public service within the year, a defensive driving course, court fees, and an apology letter to Lavey.