A La Plata County man who hit two vehicles and threatened two state troopers with a skid-steer loader in February apologized Friday and said he was “truly ashamed.”
John Westlund, a 38-year-old resident of northern La Plata County, appeared Friday before District Court Judge Todd Norvell wearing a short-sleeved collared navy shirt, black pants and black and gray sneakers. The facial hair below his bottom lip quivered as he stood beside his attorney, David Greenberg.
“I ask forgiveness from all involved,” Westlund said, his voice choked by his heaving chest.
Norvell sentenced Westlund to 10 days in jail, with five days credit for time served and two years’ supervised probation. He also ordered that Westlund abstain from alcohol and drugs and seek an alcohol evaluation, despite already participating in treatment. Westlund faced one to three years in prison for the felony menacing charge, according to the plea agreement.
“This is pretty lenient given the circumstances,” Norvell said. “I’m accepting this agreement because of how you’ve handled yourself since.”
Colorado State Patrol troopers responded to Columbine Way north of Electra Lake about 11 p.m. Feb. 22 for a report of a snowplow hitting two vehicles. When law enforcement arrived, troopers found two sedans with “significant damage” and approached someone in a skid-steer loader about a quarter-mile away.
Westlund did not slow as he drove the loader toward law enforcement. Troopers said in arresting documents that they feared for their lives. They pulled their firearms, and Westlund stopped and was arrested.
Troopers noted Westlund had a strong odor of alcohol, watery and bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. His hands shook, and he walked unsteadily.
Troopers accused Westlund of seven crimes, including two counts of attempted second-degree murder.
Prosecutors charged Westlund with two counts of Class 5 felony menacing, one count of Class 6 felony criminal mischief and seven counts of Class 3 misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
He pleaded guilty to menacing and criminal mischief in July, at least one month after Westlund said he sought weekly alcohol treatment and counseling.
“I accept full responsibility, and wish I could take it all back,” Westlund said. “But I know that I can’t.”
Greenberg said his client’s drinking habits caused him to “live in a separate reality. He lost touch with his true self.”
“He was feeling like he let his family down,” Greenberg said. “... He’s looking forward to being on probation and more so to successfully completing it.”
Norvell called the circumstances of Westlund’s arrest “nuts.”
“You were out of control,” the judge said, as Westlund wiped his eyes and nose with a tissue. “Someone could have seriously been injured.”
But the judge also commended Westlund’s remorse for the damage he caused to his neighbors, family and himself.
“You have handled yourself well, gotten help and it appears you’re taking responsibility,” Norvell said. “That counts for a lot.”