Sunday, December 02, 2001

Drunk driver gets 6 months for death

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — Patrick Thurston can't remember what happened after he and his buddies left Keeneland on that April day, but the legacy of it haunts him. Mr. Thurston killed his good friend, injured two others, and snapped his own neck in a drunken-driving crash.

        “I can't go back and change it,” a sobbing Mr. Thurston told Fayette Circuit Judge Gary Payne on Friday. “I can't say anything. I wake up every day, every moment of my life, thinking about what happened.

        “I took someone's life, and I have to face the consequences,” he said.

        The 20-year-old University of Kentucky student was behind the wheel of a new Volkswagen Jetta on April 27 when he slammed into a tree, killing 19-year-old Jared Michael Garner. Two passengers, Mr. Thurston's girlfriend, Leigh-Ann Mims, and Taylor Papania, both 17, were injured. He was charged with reckless homicide, wanton endangerment and drunken driving.

        Judge Payne ordered Mr. Thurston to serve six months in jail and five years of probation, give up his driver's license for three years, and speak to high school students about the perils of drinking and driving.

        Mr. Garner's relatives asked the judge to be gentle.

        “I feel I have to look at it as if "What if it were my son,'” his mother, Deborah Garner, wrote in a letter. “I know that I would not want my son to go to prison, and I would want my son shown mercy.”


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