A 22-year-old Durango woman was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation for careless driving causing bodily injury, a Class 1 misdemeanor, after hitting a bicyclist on north Main Avenue in August.
Jessica Durbin was also sentenced to 30 days of electronic home monitoring and will be required to complete 75 hours of community service.
Durbin was driving south about 5:30 a.m. Aug. 7 in the 3600 block of Main Avenue when she drifted into the right lane and into the bicycle lane, striking 64-year-old Christopher Balchunas. Durbin told investigators she was doing her makeup and reaching down for something she dropped when she crossed over two lanes.
An investigation found that Durbin has a history of methamphetamine use, but it is not known if she was using during the time of the crash.
Balchunas has lived in the Durango area for more than 40 years, working at Purgatory Resort and Hillcrest Golf Course. He spent more than three months in the hospital and still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.
Balchunas said he suffers from short-term memory loss and “everything is foggy up there (his head).” He is scheduled for a total shoulder replacement in March.
On Tuesday, Balchunas and his wife, Phoebe, told the court that Durbin is also a victim because she will remember this incident for the rest of her life.
“Of course, we forgive her,” Phoebe Balchunas said. “This is a young woman with an extensive history of drug use. I also believe she has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from her childhood. I want this woman to get help.”
Durbin cried as Balchunas and his wife addressed the court. She apologized and said she “felt guilty” for the crash.
“There is a lot that can influence a person in their life,” Christopher Balchunas said. “It is easy to lose control. In the short time I’ve known her, she is a caring person that wants to do good things. I think she just needs help. Any negativity can be turned into positivity.”