FORT WAYNE – The past few weeks were a struggle for the Bebout family as the family celebrated its first Christmas without their beloved patriarch and matriarch – Harold, 79, and Starr, 74.
The couple were killed in May after Corina Hurtado plowed her truck into their minivan.
And the familys still-raw grief was in full view Friday during a lengthy sentencing hearing for Hurtado, 50, who pleaded guilty to two charges of operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in her system and causing death.
Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck sentenced Hurtado to 40 years in prison and ordered her to pay $25,270 in restitution.
Surbeck noted the familys grief but said he could not give that a great deal of weight in determining Hurtados prison sentence.
What he could consider, and did, was the nature of the crime – that Hurtado was driving under the influence and fleeing a minor property-damage crash at high speed in a large vehicle.
On May 8, Hurtado, of the 4100 block of Harris Road, was in the lot of Straleys Auto Sales, 1923 Broadway, and backed her pickup truck into a parked, unoccupied car. Workers at the auto lot tried to stop her, but she drove off, tearing up Taylor Street at an increasing rate of speed, according to witnesses.
At the intersection of Fairfield Avenue and Taylor, she barreled into the drivers side door of the Bebouts van. Harold died at the scene. His wife of more than 53 years died five days later, on Mothers Day.
At the crash scene, Hurtados speech was slurred and she smelled of alcohol, according to police.
The crash left Hurtado with serious injuries, and she was taken to Lutheran Hospital. Nearly two hours after the 9:15 a.m. crash, blood tests taken at the hospital showed cocaine in her system and a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.8 percent.
Hurtados family and friends asked for leniency from the judge, tearfully describing her work with local charities and advocacy within the community.
Six months before ingesting a deadly cocktail of cocaine, sleeping pills and alcohol, then climbing behind the wheel of a large Ford F-250 pickup, Hurtado was profiled in Todays Catholic, a publication of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese.
She had worked as a Hispanic health advocate for Catholic Charities.
She has been a good woman, said her husband, Pablo Hurtado. She made a huge mistake.
But Albert Bebout, the victims oldest son, characterized Corina Hurtados actions as killing someone with a weapon.
You got into that vehicle, in the condition you were in, you loaded that weapon, he said. When you put that weapon in drive, (and) you maxed that gas pedal, you shot that weapon.
Margaret Sorgen, one of the Bebouts daughters, is married to a Fort Wayne firefighter who responded to the crash that day.
We shouldnt be here today, she said. We shouldnt be grieving. This is all wrong.