Monday was different. This time, Camille Spink was escorted away to begin serving seven years in prison for a deadly wrong-way crash in Everett.
“We weren’t sure what to expect today,” Frank Blair said after Spink was sentenced for killing his daughter. “Seeing her led away was the first time that we could see some accountability for the crimes she committed. It closed that door for us.”
Killed in the crash were Sheena Blair, 24, and Martin “Tony” Ramirez, 19, both of Tacoma. Luis Reyna and Marco Ortiz, both 18, suffered serious injuries, including multiple broken bones.
Spink, 28, told police she’d had three glasses of wine at a friend’s house before she got behind the wheel of her sport utility vehicle and headed toward a north Everett bar. She was driving the wrong way on Broadway when she slammed into Blair’s car.
Ramirez died in the back seat. Blair was rushed to a hospital but died about an hour later.
Neither Spink nor her passenger were injured.
A blood test hours after the Feb. 26 accident showed that Spink’s blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit.
She smelled of alcohol and was stumbling and swaying at the accident scene, court papers said. She also admitted smoking marijuana earlier in the day.
Spink pleaded guilty in November to two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault. She faced up to 8 1/2 years in prison. She was allowed to remain free pending the sentencing.
That has angered the families as they mourned the loss of Blair and Ramirez and helped Reyna and Ortiz mend, relatives told Superior Court Judge Larry McKeeman.
Spink’s decision to drink and drive has devastated their families, said Marivel Garcia, who is Ramirez’s cousin. This past Christmas was the first time Ramirez’s family didn’t get together for a big celebration. They just couldn’t bear being without him. They are so angry, and they’ve been taking it out on each other, one relative said.
Blair’s mother and Ramirez’s mother held hands as they spoke to the judge about how much Spink took from them the night she killed their children.
Blair was on track to graduate from college with a degree in criminal justice. She wanted to work with young offenders. She was her younger sister Amy’s champion. Ramirez left behind two young sons. He was the glue that held the family together.
“All we have are our memories, photographs and a grave site to visit,” said Gloria Tellez, Ramirez’s mother. “All I want is justice to be served.”
Under the plea agreement, prosecutors recommended a 6 1/2-year sentence, the low-end of the range set by the state sentencing guidelines commission. Spink had no previous criminal history, took responsibility for her actions by pleading guilty to all the charges and expressed her remorse by offering to meet with the victims’ families, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow said.
“This is no reflection on the victims,” Darrow said.
Spink on Monday asked to address the victims’ families. She told them she was sorry for her actions and the hurt that she has caused. She said she thinks of them often, wondering how they are doing and what she can do to ease their suffering.
“I can’t imagine all the pain you’re going through,” Spink said.
Spink’s husband also spoke Monday, begging McKeeman not to judge his wife solely on the worst moment in her life but consider the life she led before that night. She is a loving wife, a caring mother to an 8-year-old son, and she made a tragic mistake, Brent Spink said.
McKeeman agreed that there were reasons to consider a sentence below the high-end. He also explained that the sentencing range already took into account that there multiple victims.
For someone without any previous criminal history, the range for one count of vehicular homicide involving one victim is 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years in prison, he said.
“Nothing this court can do can undo what Ms. Spink has done,” McKeeman said.
He added seven months to the sentence recommended by Darrow.
The judge made a deliberate decision and it was understandable given all the circumstances, Frank Blair said. Meanwhile he and his family are working with state legislators to increase penalties for first-time drunken drivers in hopes that more jail time will cause people to change their ways.
“I think today’s sentencing sends the message that vehicular homicide due to DUI is taken seriously,” Blair said. “I hope it also sends a message that you don’t have to be a bad person to kill when you’ve drinking and driving. We hope people will consider all five families and make the decision not to drink and drive.”
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org
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