Man gets 15 months in wreck that killed 2

A Clifton man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for his role in a traffic accident that killed his daughter and his girlfriend nearly two years ago.

“I have to live with this haunting on my conscious, and that’s the worst thing anybody can suffer,” 33-year-old Denny Hatch said before hearing his sentence Wednesday morning in an emotion-packed hearing. “I’ll never forgive myself.”

Hatch in April pleaded guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide and driving with a revoked license, in a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. He could have received up to a decade in prison, or probation, under the plea deal.

Hatch was driving a 1993 Saturn that was struck broadside after he pulled into traffic on U.S. Highway 50, at the road’s intersection with 28 1/2 Road, on June 6, 2007. Hatch’s girlfriend, Jennifer Scarbrough, 24, was in the car and had been holding 5-year-old Elizabeth Hatch on her lap.

Both were killed.

Hatch’s driver’s license had been revoked since 2001 with 10 unrelated, driving-related offenses, which include driving while ability impaired and leaving the scene of an accident, among his charges.

District Judge Valerie Robison on Wednesday was miffed that Hatch continued to drive after the deadly 2007 wreck. He pleaded guilty in April 2008 to a charge of driving with a revoked license.

The judge also rejected characterizations of the June 2007 wreck as an “accident.”

“You made the decision to drive,” Robison said. “And you could have made sure your daughter was in a car seat.”

Hatch told investigators he had smoked marijuana the night before the crash, and an expert later concluded Hatch wasn’t under the influence of the illegal drug at the time of the wreck.

Ryan Esplin, Hatch’s public defender, suggested the former “dangerous” configuration of the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and 28 1/2 Road, may have factored in the wreck.

Hatch was attempting to cross the divided highway when his Saturn was hit broadside by a van. Esplin said a cluster of trees in the median of the highway obstructed Hatch’s view of oncoming traffic.

Hatch tried to “gun it” when he saw the van at the last second, but couldn’t make it, Esplin said.

State highway officials installed traffic lights at the intersection after the 2007 accident.


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