fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Driver in fatal crash sentenced to prison

A Shady Cove woman who pleaded guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide and drunken driving offered a tearful apology Thursday to the family of the man who died in a November crash.

"Words cannot express the despair over the tragic loss of someone who felt so near and dear, someone so special," Debra Gibbs read from a letter about her friend, Shady Cove resident Michael Johnson. "It will never be enough to say I'm sorry."

Gibbs, 43, was sentenced to 55 months in prison and three years of post-prison supervision following her plea in Jackson County Circuit Court. She also had her driver's license revoked and was ordered to pay restitution, an amount that has yet to be determined.

Johnson, 42, died in a Nov. 24 crash on Rogue River Drive outside Shady Cove. He was a passenger in the truck Gibbs drove.

Both had been drinking. Gibbs had a blood-alcohol content level of .13 percent.

It was 2:45 p.m. when Gibbs failed to negotiate a sharp curve in the 5000 block and lost control of her vehicle, a 2001 Ford Ranger. The vehicle struck a guard rail and rolled over. Johnson was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene from his injuries.

Defense attorney Diana Pierson told Judge Lorenzo Mejia that Gibbs wanted to do the right thing by pleading guilty. Gibbs did not have any criminal history in Jackson County prior to the crash.

"She's taking responsibility," Pierson said. "She's never thought of herself as a victim."

Gibbs described Johnson as a close friend who was considered family by her two sons.

"Michael saw me and my boys for who we really were," she said.

Prosecutor Lacie Nelson also read a letter from Johnson's ex-wife to the court, in which she told Gibbs she forgave her and asked her to do the same.

"Please ask God for forgiveness and put God in your life. You have to wake up and learn from this," the letter reads. "Don't forget what you have done, but forgive yourself."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Driver in fatal crash sentenced to prison