Judge orders probation for man whose driving caused serious injury
By: Maria Lockwood, The Daily Telegram
A Superior man whose poor driving led to an accident that left his passenger paralyzed was sentenced to three years probation Thursday in Douglas County Court.
Christopher Craig Hughes, 23, pleaded guilty to the felony charge of reckless driving causing great bodily harm. The accident took place May 1, 2007 on County Highway A.
Judge Michael Lucci left a three-and-a-half year prison sentence hanging over the Superior man’s head. The imposed and stayed prison sentence was part of a joint recommendation by Assistant District Attorney Jim Boughner and First Assistant State Public Defender J. Patrick O’Neill.
Conditions of Hughes’ probation include one year in jail with Huber work release granted, completion of a chemical dependency evaluation and vocational counseling and payment of court costs.
If Hughes violates his probation, he will serve the prison sentence — 18 months of initial confinement and 24 months of extended supervision.
Laura Sever testified at a preliminary hearing in August that she handed her van keys to Hughes the afternoon of the incident.
“I thought I would see if he wanted to drive, kind of teach him how, so he could get his license,” she said.
Hughes gained speed and began to swerve, then slowed when Sever asked him to. Shortly after, Hughes again accelerated and started swerving. This time, there was an oncoming vehicle.
“I grabbed onto my seat belt at this point and I was holding it ready to buckle it and next thing I know we’re rolling,” Sever testified by phone from a hospital in the Twin Cities.
She was thrown from the van and suffered a broken leg, broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder and broken back.
“It was shattered and I’m paralyzed,” Sever said, crying.
Hughes gave a false name to law enforcement officers who arrived on the scene and named Sever as the driver, according to the criminal complaint.
A charge of obstructing an officer was dismissed Thursday as part of the plea agreement.