SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- A drunken driver who caused a crash that killed a Utah paramedic was sentenced to up to 16 years in prison on Friday.
Gabriel Gutierrez-Perez, 27, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree felony automobile homicide and class A misdemeanor driving under the influence in connection with the death of Jonathan Bowers.
Third District Court Judge Judith Atherton sentenced to one to 15 years in prison for the automobile homicide charge, with an additional year for the DUI. Bowers, 31, of West Jordan, was on his way to work the morning of May 22, 2011, when he suffered severe injuries near 6200 South and 4000 West in Taylorsville. He died a week later
Bowers had been an EMT with Gold Cross for six years at the time of his death.
Prior to the crash, Gutierrez-Perez had spent the night drinking with friends at home and then at a downtown nightclub, police said. After sleeping for a while on a friend's sofa, Gutierrez-Perez drove home at 6 a.m.
He was going about 75 mph when he crashed into Bowers' stopped car. Bowers' car slammed into the back of another vehicle, causing Bowers' car to launch into the air. Gutierrez-Perez's car crashed into a pole before hitting a wall and coming to a stop.
Gutierrez-Perez ran into a residential neighborhood after the accident, where police found him hiding in a window well. His blood alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit.
During the emotional sentencing hearing, Bowers' father, mother and sister addressed the court, describing their lost family member as a quiet, reserved BYU football fan who was very giving and helpful to those around him.
John Bowers, the victim's father, gave a teary, detailed description of the days leading up to his son's death, and how the tragedy has rocked their family's world.
"There is no parole, no early release from death," he said. "[Gutierrez-Perez] at some point will be reunited with his friends. That, of course, is not possible for our son."Gutierrez-Perez stood and watched the family speak, but had little reaction as they expressed their feelings about Bowers and the accident.
He then addressed the court, apologizing for the accident and becoming emotional when he spoke about his own family.
"I am deeply sorry for what I did," Gutierrez-Perez said. "I had no right to take their son and brother. I wish I never would have done anything like that. I have three kids of my own that I miss terribly. I wish I could be there for them, but I did something very bad."