Eugene, Ore. (KMTR) - The man who caused a deadly wreck near Junction city was sentenced Friday, pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide.
Douglas Allan Bruce, 48, was headed home after a fishing trip at the coast. Bruce's motor home went off the road, smashed into a Honda CRX stopped at an intersection, and went airborne before finally landing yards away facing the opposite direction. Police said it was likely that Bruce fell asleep at the wheel, killing 24-year old Andrea Post.
Bruce was sentenced to four years of probation, 500 hours of community service, an alcohol treatment program and at least five joint counseling sessions with Post's family. Both families agreed that jail time was not necessary, especially after Bruce expressed his deep remorse in the courtroom.
"Part of me also passed away that day," he said.
Bruce acknowledged the accident was a tragedy and apologized that it happened.
"I wish that whatever happens to me can bring peace to Andrea's family," he added.
Bruce's driver's license was also taken away but as of 9:30 AM Friday, for an undetermined amount of time.
During a recess in the courtroom, Bruce and his wife clung to each other close hoping for the best. His attorney, Brad Cascagnette of Gardner, Potter, Budge, Spickard & Cascagnette, LLC, called Bruce a family man who financially supported three children and a grandchild all living inside the home. According to Cascagnette, after the accident Bruce's daughter and grandchild moved out mostly due to Bruce's depression.
Bruce, who cried through a majority of the sentencing, admitted to police the night of the crash that he had been drinking throughout his trip. He drank 12 beers the day before and told police he had taken in two or three beers the day of the accident. Oregon State Police conducted a field sobriety test on scene, and were clued in by two of the procedures that alcohol had played a role. When they repeated the tests, though, Bruce showed a clean performance. Three hours later, he blew a .06 blood alcohol level, still below the .08 BAC limit. Yet, there was no proof of intoxication to call it a DUI, so Bruce was let go.
"Ultimately, it played a factor in perhaps in making Mr. Bruce more fatigued," said district attorny Chris Parosa.
After the crash, Bruce began seeing a therapist. His attorney also suggested he see a doctor, who diagnosed him with narcolepsy, a chronic sleep condition characterized by frequent and uncontrollable periods of deep sleep. Bruce said he was unaware of the condition prior to the accident.
The judge who sentenced Bruce told him Friday that had he known about his narcolepsy, her decision to waive jail time would likely be different.
"Mr. Bruce accepted responsibility for his actions in this case," said Parosa. "It was important to the victims."
The victim's grandparents also addressed the court Friday, telling Bruce that he taken a large part of their family away. They described Andrea as a woman who truly cared, often driving 200 miles to Newberg to see them and do small activities with them. Wearing shirts with pictures of Andrea, they said as a child she enjoyed playing dress up.
Andrea's friends have also struggled throughout the last seven months, often remembering the night she died, August 3rd, 2011.
"They've been really tough," her friend and roommate Jeffery Jackson told NewsSource 16 about the last few months. "We didn't see that coming. She was taken just like that."
Jackson recalled celebrating Christmas with Andrea year after year, but said with her not there for Christmas 2011, the group kept a picture close by. His four year old son remembers Drea because she often watched over him when Jeffery was away.
"Drea was a big part in all of our lives, she put other people, her friends and family before her," he said. "It's horrible what happened."
'Drea' as her friends referred to her, was set to graduate from Pioneer Pacific College within a week of her death. She planned to work in criminal justice. Weeks after she died, the college planted some trees in her honor.
Also in her honor, a memorial site at the corner of Hutton Lane and Highway 99. Flowers, white boards to write on, teddy bears and more mark the corner where Post died. Her friends told NewsSource 16 that Post's grandparents would like to put in a bench and plant trees there for a more permanent site.
The judge in Friday's sentencing told the court, the victim's family and Douglas Bruce that she was amazed by everyone's graciousness and that she hopes the goodness of their hearts will help in healing. She called their willingness to forgive and give an opportunity to Bruce a 'great gift.'
"I think you've shown as much remorse as any human being can give," she said to Bruce.
In an interview, Parosa told NewsSource 16 that he thanks all of the parties involved for being so courageous.
"This was a wonderful example of the criminal justice system working its best," added Chris Parosa. "For being as gracious and courageous as they've all been, throughout this whole thing I think it worked out wonderfully for everybody."
Parosa said the investigation took a long time before it was turned over to their office in January. They said they knew there was a lot to corroborate before putting it out into the public.
For those who knew Andrea, they said they weren't surprised her family was so willing to negotiate terms. Jackson said it's what Andrea would have wanted and done herself.
"He knows if he's sorry. If he feels that sorrow, then we appreciate it," said Jackson. "If he has a family, he should be there to take care of them."