Woman sent to jail for 60 days in traffic death
January 10, 2012
A 51-year-old Gardnerville woman was ordered to serve 60 days in Douglas County Jail after she pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in a July accident which caused the death of businessman Craig Ducar.
East Fork Justice Tom Perkins sentenced Dona Tholl on Friday to six months in Douglas County Jail for the misdemeanor offense. He suspended four months, but ordered her to serve 60 days and perform 120 hours of community service.
Tholl wept through most of the 90-minute emotional hearing that included testimony from Ducar’s widow, Julie Summerville, and Tholl’s friends and co-workers at Douglas County’s Youth Detention Center at Stateline.
Ducar, 42, died July 13 when Tholl pulled out of the intersection of Highway 88 and Centerville into the path of his motorcycle, failing to yield right-of-way.
Ducar was the general manager of Bullseye Nevada, a Gardnerville gun store. Tholl was on her way to work at Stateline when the accident occurred.
His widow, Julie Summerville, testified Friday that she and Ducar were “best friends and soul mates” for 21 years.
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“There was never a day in my life that I didn’t love Craig,” Summerville said.
“I screamed and sobbed and cried uncontrollably for five days after the accident,” Summerville said, adding that she still has nightmares.
“For the first two months, nothing in my life seemed real,” Summerville said.
“You may be hurting,” Summerville said to Tholl, “but I guarantee you have never felt anything like this. It feels like a freight train going through you.”
Prosecutor Erik Levin read letters from Ducar’s parents who did not attending the hearing.
Ducar was “a gift to me and our family for 42 years,” wrote his mother, Cheryl Ridings. “I can’t describe the pain and anguish of losing a child.”
“Whatever punishment she receives will not change the end result: Craig Ducar is dead.” Ridings wrote.
Charles Ducar urged Perkins to impose the maximum six months in jail and $1,000 fine for the death of his son.
“I hope God forgives you (Tholl), because I never will,” Ducar said in his letter.
Tholl’s sister Sheryl Christian said the defendant was so distraught over the accident, her family and friends feared for her health.
“She was just saying, ‘I didn’t see him. I didn’t see him,'” Christian said. “She kept asking to call the hospital to make sure he was OK. When her husband told her he (Ducar) died, her body just kind of collapsed. It’s on her mind constantly. She cries a lot. It’s something she’s going to have to live with for the rest of her life.”
Tholl sobbed as she apologized to Summerville.
“I am sorry for your pain,” Tholl said. “I think about your pain, I think about your family all the time.”
She repeatedly said she would trade places with Ducar if she could.
“I believe that when you say you think about them and would do anything for them” Perkins said. “You need to serve a penance. Driving these vehicles is the most dangerous thing we can do. You can look at it as an accident or a crash, but it’s your duty to look for dangers. I can’t think of anything worse than losing a child.”
Lawyer Tod Young said Tholl was remorseful and cried every time they talked about the accident.
“This is an error and a tragic one,” he said. “She did stop. She wasn’t on her phone, she wasn’t speeding. She pulled out in front of Mr. Ducar. She just didn’t see him and that is her fault. She feels terrible remorse. If she could trade places with him, she would do that.”