Judge accepts plea deal in double-fatal crash
At the end of a hearing that brought even the judge to tears, a Rutland man who pleaded guilty to driving negligently in a crash that killed two people in Bridgewater was sentenced to 30 days in jail, a two year loss of his driver's license, $2,000 in fines and 400 hours of community service.
Joshua Ouimette, 26, pleaded guilty today in White River Junction criminal court to two misdemeanor charges of negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
The judge's decision to accept Ouimette's plea to the misdemeanor charges, which carried a potential maximum sentence on each charge of up to one year in jail, spared Ouimette the possibility of facing a pair of felony negligent operation charges that could have sent him to jail for up to 30 years.
Ouimette was initially charged with the serious offenses after police concluded he was speeding and not paying attention when the 2004 GMC Envoy he was driving on Route 4 swerved into the oncoming lane and collided with a 2001 Ford Escape driven by Christopher Raleigh, 56, of Las Vegas, Nev.
Christopher Raleigh and his 10-year-old son were killed in the crash and his wife, Anastasia Raleigh was seriously injured and required long months of physical rehabilitation.
Noting that no criminal sentence would restore the lives lost in the crash, Judge Katherine Hayes said the plea deal that Ouimette had agreed to with prosecutors was a fair resolution based his lack of criminal record, the testimony of family members and employers who spoke at the hearing and the obvious regret showed by Ouimette who openly wept as he apologized to the Raleigh family.
Ouimette will be serving his sentence on weekends, starting Friday when he scheduled to begin his sentence at the Rutland jail.