A Mancos man was sentenced to two years in prison for a deadly high-speed crash into an SUV carrying a family of four last July that left a father and son dead, and a mother and younger son in critical condition.
Anthony Rodriquez, who was 36 at the time, pleaded guilty in January to two counts of vehicular homicide, as well as charges of careless driving causing bodily injury and driving without insurance.
District Judge Todd Norvell said because of the seriousness of the crash, incarceration was an appropriate punishment.
Rodriquez must also serve five years of probation after his release from prison.
“This is an extremely serious offense,” Norvell said. “Mr. Rodriguez has taken responsibility … and does not deflect the blame.” However, he said the damage to the Streett family and their relatives was severe.
On July 20, Rodriguez was traveling west on U.S. Highway 160, on his way home to Mancos from work in Durango. Witnesses said they spotted Rodriguez driving recklessly and at a high rate of speed before the crash.
Around 5:15 p.m., Rodriguez, who was traveling nearly 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, lost control of the vehicle when a sudden downpour hit about 5 miles west of Hesperus.
As a result, Rodriguez hydroplaned into oncoming traffic in the eastbound lane and struck a Honda Pilot carrying the Streetts, a family of four. Authorities said Rodriguez was not on drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
Robert Streett, 52, died at the scene. His 16-year-old son, Robby, died after being transported to Mercy Regional Medical Center.
Streett’s wife, Josslyn, then 49, was airlifted to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood where she spent more than 30 days in the trauma center. The family’s 14-year-old son, Sawyer, was taken to Mercy and spent 11 days in the hospital before he was able to be reunited with his mother. He then spent five months in a wheelchair and has had multiple surgeries.
The Streetts are from Sequim, Washington, about 60 miles northwest of Seattle. They were on their way to Pagosa Springs for a family reunion after stopping on a road trip at the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners National Monument.
Robert Streett’s sister, Diane, read a letter to the court written by Josslyn detailing her and her surviving son’s struggles, physical recovery, depression and coming to terms with losing half their family in an instant.
“This is a life sentence for us without our family,” Josslyn wrote.
Josslyn, who was listening in on the court hearing but preferred not to speak, wrote in her letter that “there is no justice in a case like this,” where she and her son have to take all the emotional, as well as physical, pains.
She also mentioned financial struggles because Rodriguez was not insured. The issue was further exacerbated because Robert, who owned a business in Sequim, was the sole provider for the family.
Josslyn, her son, Sawyer, and other relatives asked the court to impose prison time. The court had some discretion in sentencing Rodriguez, from community corrections to up to six years in prison.
“This was a horrific collision with horrific impacts on many people’s lives,” said Assistant District Attorney David Ottman, who added a strict punishment for the crash also serves as a reminder to other people to drive safely.
Rodriguez, who was represented by local attorney Joel Fry, gave a brief, tearful apology to the Streetts, saying he was in a rush that day to get home to his wife and five kids and had a lapse in judgment.
“I’m sorry for everything I caused,” he said. “I don’t know what words would make up for that.”
Norvell said he is aware the prison sentence will greatly affect Rodriguez’s ability to provide for his own family, but a sentence without incarceration would “depreciate” the seriousness of the crime.
“Mr. Rodriguez appears wracked with guilt … but the time has come for you to pay a price,” Norvell said. “For the Streett family, I wish and hope for healing the best you can.”
Rodriguez must report 5 p.m. Friday to begin his sentence. Norvell said based on his conduct throughout the court process, Rodriguez does not pose a flight risk.