Prison time likely for fatal car crash

Carl Lane, 72, may face prison time for a probation violation in a criminally negligent homicide case stemming from this May 13, 2016 fatal accident at Highway 17 and the Stanley Road north of Alamosa that killed Texas resident Larry Howey, 76, whose car is shown./Courier file photo by Ruth Heide

ALAMOSA — Carl Lane, 72, of Byers, may be facing prison time for a probation violation in a criminally negligent homicide case stemming from a fatal accident on May 13, 2016, on Highway 17.

Lane appeared in court Thursday afternoon in a wheelchair, as he is recovering from back surgery. His attorney Raymond Miller entered a denial to the complaint, which is based on a new conviction, and Chief District Judge Pattie Swift scheduled a hearing for March 28.

Miller told the judge he had persuaded the court “time and time again” to continue the probation officer’s complaint hearing, and the court granted the last continuance because Lane had to have back surgery. Miller said the agreement was for Lane to enter an admission to the complaint and serve time in Community Corrections. However, as he is in a wheelchair, Lane is unable at this time to go into Community Corrections because they will not accept him in a wheelchair, Miller told the judge.

Miller added that the district attorney agreed to set the hearing out another 60 days in the hopes that Lane could rehab to the point where he would not be confined to a wheelchair and could go into Community Corrections. If Lane has not advanced physically beyond the wheelchair at that time, however, “the only other alternative is DOC [Department of Corrections]. We have no other options,” Miller said.

District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen said documentation she had received from Miller indicated the entire recovery time from the back surgery was about a year. “I have made it clear with Mr. Miller I am not waiting until October 2019 to deal with this case,” she said.

Newmyer-Olsen added that she was willing to give another 60 days for Lane to possibly rehab out of the wheelchair, but at that time she wanted to move the case forward, regardless.

In April 2017, District Judge Michael Gonzales sentenced Lane to three years in the Department of Corrections, which he suspended as long as Lane successfully completed six years of probation, did not drive, paid fines, costs and restitution and met other requirements associated with his probation on the criminally negligent homicide charge. The judge also sentenced Lane to one year in the county jail on a careless driving charge, which Lane began immediately. A six-month jail sentence on a driving under revocation charge was served concurrently.

Lane had pleaded guilty to charges related to a May 13, 2016 accident that killed Larry Howey, 76, of Texas, at Highway 17 and Stanley Road. Howey’s wife Doreen, 74, was injured but survived. Howey had been caring for his wife of 57 years who had dementia and without him she was unable to live at home anymore.

At the time of sentencing, Judge Gonzales had called Lane “an absolute nightmare on the roads.” This was the fourth fatality Lane had contributed to on San Luis Valley highways since 1998.

During the 2017 sentencing Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig said Lane was responsible for the death of four people in three fatal crashes since 1998, with the first occurring in Saguache County and involving the death of Margaret and Homer Smith, the second in 2013 claiming Blanca resident John Bregg and the third in 2016, resulting in Howey’s death.

“It’s absolutely horrific the damage that you have caused to these families,” Judge Gonzales told Lane at the time.

Also during the 2017 sentencing Miller argued that Lane’s past debts had been paid and taking away his life would not bring Howey back. Miller said Lane was a father and grandfather who was hauling a pickup load of hay when the 2016 accident occurred. Miller said Lane tried to avoid the crash but could not, and there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t live with that.

Miller said his client had no ill intent or malice, and Lane told the judge he was sorry and if he could bring the victim back he would.

Judge Gonzales acknowledged that Lane did not intentionally go out to kill people but his actions resulted in loss of life. The judge told Lane he had no business driving. “You are like the angel of death.”