IM this article to a friend!

July 23, 2003

Driver who killed guide dog jailed

From: Denver Post, CO - Jul 23, 2003

By The Associated Press GREELEY - A judge has sentenced a man to two years in prison for a drunken-driving crash that killed a dog and injured her deaf master.

Richard Christian, 52, of Fort Collins, swerved over the center line of the road last year and hit Eric Fifer's minivan. Fifer, 35, suffered neck and back injuries that he said still bother him. Fancy, his dog that was trained to help her master respond to alarms, knocks at the door and other sounds, was killed.

Christian pleaded guilty to aggravated driving with a revoked license, a felony, and to two misdemeanors: driving under the influence and careless driving causing an injury. Prosecutors said he also had previous drunken-driving convictions dating to 1992.

"(Fancy) was the most important thing in my life," Fifer told Christian on Monday at the Weld County Courthouse during testimony. "I thought I could forgive you, but not after looking at your history. You have abused your rights as a citizen."

Christian apologized. "I know how much he loved the dog. He loved that dog as much as I love my child," he said. "All I can do is offer my apologies to everybody."

After the hearing, Fifer said though a sign-language interpreter that he was glad the judge imposed the toughest sentence allowed in the plea agreement.

Copyright 2003 The Denver Post or other copyright holders. All rights reserved.