Paralyzed victim forgives drunk driver who ran him off Kingsbury
Kevin Sorci wheeled himself to the microphone at the plaintiff’s table before District Judge Michael Gibbons.
Clutching a dog tag around his neck, emblazoned with the Superman “S” from the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the 35-year-old ex-casino dealer tried Monday to describe what his life has been like since a drunk driver ran him off Kingsbury Grade 15 months ago.
“On Sept. 6, 2004, I was catapulted out of my life,” Sorci said. “I would see people in wheelchairs and I couldn’t imagine what it felt like. It has been my life 24 hours a day for the past 15 months.”
Sorci was trapped upside down in his vehicle after he was run off the road by William McCulloch, 28, of Minden.
McCulloch pleaded guilty to driving under the influence causing substantial bodily harm.
He was sentenced Monday to 10 years in Nevada State Prison, but is eligible for parole after he serves 30 months.
Relatives and friends spoke on behalf of McCulloch who has no criminal record. His blood-alcohol content was .128. The legal limit is Nevada for driving is .08.
McCulloch apologized to Sorci and expressed gratitude for the injured man’s forgiveness.
He told Gibbons that when he is released from prison, he hoped he and Sorci could address teens and other drivers on the dangers of driving under the influence.
In a written statement to Gibbons, McCulloch said Sorci’s forgiveness has made his guilt worse and his sorrow deeper.
“I would have assumed he would be filled with hatred towards me but found that he is possibly the most forgiving and compassionate person that I know of,” McCulloch wrote.
“I really think we could serve as the dramatic, stark faces of drunk driving from both perspectives.”
In his statement to the judge, Sorci said he is in constant pain and unable to sleep through the night.
He said depression and loneliness are hard to deal with.
“In many ways, my dreams have been shattered, but the damage has been done and only luck, God or stem cells can change that for now. I believe that some good may come from this emotional situation,” he said.
Sorci fractured vertebrae and has almost no movement below his waist.
After the accident, he moved to Illinois to live with his mother and sister who care for him.
According to reports, McCulloch was behind a vehicle driven by Sorci who was on his way home from work at 3 a.m., traveling east on Kingsbury Grade from Highway 50.
McCulloch was speeding and attempted to pass Sorci, sending the victim’s vehicle off the road near Terrace View Drive.
The Sorci vehicle flipped and landed on its roof, trapping the man inside.
Prosecutor Derrick Lopez said he had never met an individual with Sorci’s strength.
“He is able to think things out, to forgive. He’s been magnanimous and extremely positive. He’s not looking for punishment for punishment’s sake, but for atonement,” Lopez said
Lopez and Sorci credited McCulloch’s passenger with comforting the victim until help arrived.
“He couldn’t move. He could smell gasoline,” Lopez said. “He didn’t know if the car would catch fire. It was dark. He didn’t know if anyone was there or would find him.”
Arnold Brock, McCulloch’s attorney, said his client was serving as a lesson of the consequences of drinking and driving and had been telling his story to anyone who would listen since the accident.
He said McCulloch had commissioned a Christmas card from the Carmelite sisters in Reno with a message not to drink and drive.
“He (McCulloch) is well-loved in this community. He wants to preach about how bad he’s been. He has the moxie to get up and say, ‘I ruined a man’s life,” Brock said.
Brock said McCulloch never tried to make excuses for the accident or deny his responsibility.
McCulloch said he will be haunted the rest of his life by the sound of Sorci’s voice when he reached his vehicle after the accident.
“I will never have to lay in a hospital bed and not feel my legs and feet unless it happens to me,” he said.
“I’m sorry, Kevin,” McCulloch said.
Gibbons said in determining the penalty he took into account the severity of the crime, the defendant’s prior record and whether he was “salvageable.”
“The nature of the offense is so serious, it means the court has to impose a sentence to reflect that. I want to make it clear but for the presentations today, the sentence would be significantly greater,” Gibbons said.
In addition to prison, he ordered McCulloch to pay $40,000 restitution for Sorci’s out-of-pocket expenses since the accident.
He also ordered McCulloch to speak to groups about the dangers of drinking and driving once he’s released.
“I assume you are trying to keep a positive attitude like Mr. Sorci,” Gibbons said. “If you follow all the rules, you can try to persuade the parole board to let you out as early as possible.”