His eyes closed for a few seconds and his Ford 150 pickup drifted across the centerline of Rt. 15 just north of Leesburg. In an instant, a Leesburg man driving northbound in a Subaru pickup was dead.
On Tuesday, Jimmy Hartman, 22, pleaded guilty to reckless driving in the March 22, 2017, crash and was sentenced to 12 months in jail.
The West Virginia man told investigators at the scene of the crash that he had fallen asleep while driving after lacking sleep because of work obligations.
The victim was Michael Anthony Larrick, a 29-year-old newlywed who worked in the IT field.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Douglas L. Fleming Jr.’s courtroom was filled with Larrick’s family and friends. Among seven witnesses who testified about the lasting impact the crash has had were Larrick’s mother and wife. His wife said she forgave Hartman and asked him to live the best life he could. She also asked Fleming include community service to victims and other young adults as part of Hartman’s sentence.
Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan W. Perry asked the Fleming to craft a sentence that would send a message to other drivers that their choices have consequences and costs.
In his ruling, Fleming noted that Hartman’s conduct “unintentionally and unlawfully” had a far reaching, severe and negative impact. He said the case should serve as a cautionary tale for others who make choices to get behind the wheel of a car when they are fatigued.
In addition to the 12-month jail sentence, Fleming imposed a $2,500 suspended fine, placed Hartman on supervised probation for 12 months, and ordered him to participate as a speaker in the county’s monthly Victim Impact Panel program during the year following his release from jail. Hartman’s driver’s license was suspended for six months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days and drowsy driving is responsible up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year.