A victim’s outrage, or a family’s outrage, usually is part and parcel of a sentencing hearing for a guilty person who caused excessive harm. For good reasons there is usually an outpouring of anger and emotion aimed at the individual who caused the loss of life or serious injury. The harshest possible sentence is usually demanded.
In a district court hearing in Cortez two weeks ago, a different scenario occurred. As reported by The Journal, a driver, who had received broken ribs and a broken hand in the crash and was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, advocated for a very reduced sentence for the two-time drunk driver who had hit him.
Seventy-seven year-old Mike Lavey, a Cortez city councilman, was emotional in describing the effects of the crash on his and his wife’s lives, but argued that the driver who had hit him, rather than face lengthy jail time, instead be given the opportunity to regain his footing and be a nurturing father and a productive member of the community.
Community service, the completion of an addiction treatment program and a letter of apology was what Lavey was content to have required.
The judge agreed.
Logan Vigil, who caused the crash, will serve about 20 days in jail and be required to complete addiction treatment and community service.
At the hearing, Vigil read a letter of apology and said he would turn his life around.
Vigil had begun a treatment program, and was no longer drinking, according to his attorney. He has temporarily lost his driver’s license.
Vigil was speeding in his employer’s truck at about 4 p.m. in January when he hit Lavey as Lavey turned left in front of him at the intersection of Highway 145 and East Empire Street on the east side of Cortez. Vigil’s blood alcohol was 0.202, and it was his second DUI.
It is uncertain what jail sentence Vigil might have received had Lavey not taken the position he did, or had not Vigil begun to redeem himself, but as a second DUI it might have been severe.
Vigil has not yet fully avoided tougher punishment. What was agreed to by the judge was a deferred sentence, meaning Vigil has to meet the terms or face the judge again.
In this case a significant second chance was made possible by a victim who believed that challenging an individual to better his life could lead to a better outcome than time in jail.
We applaud the unusual opportunity that Mike Lavey provided, and hope that Logan Vigil makes the most of it.