Dillon Zachary Nash says he was taught to own his mistakes.
“That’s what I’m doing,” he said in court Monday before he was sentenced for vehicular homicide.
The 23-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge last week for the Oct. 24, 2016 wreck that killed Jason Ley along Interstate 5.
Both the state and prosecution recommended a sentence of five and a half years, which was below the standard range.
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Superior Court Judge Phil Sorensen went higher, giving Nash a low-end sentence of six and a half years.
Sorensen said it seemed that Nash had learned his lesson too late, and that an exceptionally low sentence didn’t seem appropriate.
“I’m going to stay within the standard range,” the judge said.
Ley, 46, was standing along I-5 near state Route 512 after he had been involved in a different wreck.
Nash then crashed into the wreckage, and Ley was pinned between two vehicles. He died from his injuries soon after.
Nash’s blood-alcohol level was 0.13 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08.
“I’m sorry for all the pain I have caused you,” Nash told Ley’s loved ones in court Monday. "I hurt countless people with a single mistake. One I’ll never make again.”
Ley’s mother, Catherine Ley, told the court that her son had been hit hard enough that he “was knocked right out of his boots,” which she brought with her to show the judge.
She described him as caring son, who had moved close to her from out-of-state after her husband died.
"When I needed help, Jason was there," she said.
The family also told the judge about Ley’s relationship with his nieces and nephews, including his brother John Ley’s kids.
Uncle Jason was known for playing hide and seek with the kids, getting them riled up, then leaving them with their parents, the family joked.
"It drove us nuts," John Ley told the court.
He also made a habit of dropping change in the driveway as he left for the kids to find later.
"We are forever missing him," John Ley said.
Defense attorney Les Tolzin told the court that Nash had reenlisted in the military just before the wreck.
“Up until this incident, he was planning on making a career of serving his country,” the attorney said.
Tolzin also pointed out to the judge that Nash is young and has no criminal history.
The night of the wreck, the attorney said, he made a bad decision.