HOBART, Ind. (STMW) — Tears fell at a sentencing hearing for a Hobart man who admitted he was drunk when he crashed his motorcycle and killed his passenger.
“There are no winners,” Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. said shortly before imposing the maximum four-year sentence for William D. Worley, 35.
Worley wiped away tears as he apologized to the family of Rachelle Burge, 41, of Lake Station. Dale Burge said Worley’s actions had a heavy impact on the family and that his grandmother has cried every day since the crash on April 18, 2012, in the 1300 block of South County Line Road in Hobart.
In court, Worley admitted in July he didn’t have a valid motorcycle endorsement and had been drinking before he and Burge met in a bar and went for a ride. Worley lost control of the motorcycle and crashed. His blood-alcohol level was about 0.12 percent.
Worley’s wife, Jill, and other family members described Worley as devoured by guilt from his actions and unable to sleep. The recently laid-off union carpenter is someone who helps his mother care for his grandfather, witnesses said.
Deputy prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz argued for a prison sentence in light of Worley’s prior drunken-driving arrest, for which he pleaded guilty to reckless driving. Worley also had a prior burglary conviction.
Defense attorney Alexander Lopez said his client, whom he described as a functional alcoholic at the time, made a bad decision and called the crash an accident. “It took a tragic accident for him to change, but he has changed,” Lopez said.
Worley turned to Burge’s sons in the gallery and apologized for his actions. He recalled the image burned into his memory of Burge’s family weeping by the coroner’s vehicle at the hospital after the crash. “I beg you all to forgive me because one day then I can forgive myself,” he said.
The charge to which Worley pleaded guilty is punishable by two to eight years, but Worley’s plea agreement capped his sentence at four years.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)