A drunken driver who caused a crash that killed a Utah paramedic was sentenced to up to 16 years in prison on Friday.
Gabriel Gutierrez-Perez, 27, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree felony automobile homicide and class A misdemeanor driving under the influence in the death of Jonathan Bowers.
Third District Court Judge Judith Atherton sentenced Gutierrez-Perez to one to 15 years in prison for the automobile homicide charge, with an additional year for the DUI. Bowers, 31, of West Jordan, was on his way to work the morning of May 22, 2011, when he suffered severe injuries in the crash near 6200 South and 4000 West in Taylorsville. He died a week later.
Bowers had been an EMT with Gold Cross for six years.
Prior to the crash, Gutierrez-Perez had spent the night drinking with friends at home and then at a downtown nightclub, police said. After sleeping for a while on a friend’s sofa, Gutierrez-Perez drove home at 6 a.m.
He was going about 75 mph when he crashed into Bowers’ stopped car. After slamming into the back of another vehicle, Bowers’ car was launched into the air.
Gutierrez-Perez’s car crashed into a pole before hitting a wall. He ran into a residential neighborhood, where police found him hiding in a window well. His blood alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit.
During the emotional sentencing hearing, Bowers’ father, mother and sister addressed the court, describing their lost family member as a quiet, reserved BYU football fan who was giving and helpful to those around him.
John Bowers, the victim’s father, gave a teary, detailed description of the days leading up to his son’s death and how the tragedy has rocked their family’s world.
“There is no parole, no early release from death,” he said. “[Gutierrez-Perez] at some point will be reunited with his friends. That, of course, is not possible for our son.” Gutierrez-Perez stood and watched the family speak but had little reaction as they expressed their feelings about Bowers and the accident. He then addressed the court, apologizing for the accident and becoming emotional when he spoke about his own family.
“I am deeply sorry for what I did,” Gutierrez-Perez said. “I had no right to take their son and brother. I wish I never would have done anything like that. I have three kids of my own that I miss terribly. I wish I could be there for them, but I did something very bad.”
Gutierrez-Perez was also ordered to pay more than $7,000 in restitution, and will receive credit for the 304 days he has served so far.