Drunken driver sentenced for crash that paralyzed NU grad | TheUnion.com

Drunken driver sentenced for crash that paralyzed NU grad

A lawyer has received the maximum prison sentence for the drunken-driving crash that paralyzed a Nevada Union High School graduate and killed her boyfriend while the two were on an Easter morning bicycle ride.

Jill Mason, a 1995 Nevada Union graduate, was riding on Highway 12 with Alan Liu, 31, when they were struck from behind by Harvey Hereford, who had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.

On Monday, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing sentenced Hereford, 69, to eight years and eight months in prison. Hereford pleaded guilty July 7 to felony charges of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and inflicting bodily injury in the April 11 crash.

Mason and Liu had been dating for six months and were training for a triathlon. Liu died from his injuries, and Mason suffered brain trauma and a severed spinal cord.

Though Mason was living in Cupertino at the time of the crash, she has since undergone intense physical therapy and recently relocated from the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center to Grass Valley.

Surrounded by her family Monday, Mason addressed Hereford from her wheelchair.

“I never thought I would be where I am today,” she said in a faltering voice. “My life’s goals are very different now. … I’ve lost a lot, including a friend.”

Hereford, who was driving on an expired license, said he couldn’t remember the crash and told authorities he had felt abandoned by his family during the holidays.

On the family’s Web site, http://www.jillmason.com, Jill Mason’s brother, Daniel Mason, wrote of the emotional impact of the sentencing:

“Of course, no jail sentence can repair the damage done by his actions – but at least he will have lots of time to think about the speech that Jill gave today in court. He will also have lots of time to think about all of the kind words that were said about Alan’s life.

“The sad thing is that it didn’t really seem to affect him as profoundly as it should have given the amount of pain for which he is responsible. He came across as a cold and empty old man.”

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