Nicholas Gervais sentenced for driving drunk, killing motorist in wrong-way crash

SAN DIEGO - A man who was drunk and driving the wrong way when he killed another motorist in a head-on freeway collision was sentenced Wednesday to 11 years and eight months in state prison.

Nicholas Gervais, 29, pleaded guilty in May to four felony charges, including vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing great bodily injury. He also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and DUI with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.

"This was a horrendous traffic collision," Superior Court Judge Robert F. O'Neill said as he sentenced the defendant to the maximum term under the plea bargain.

The judge noted that Gervais told authorities that he believed he blacked out prior to the deadly Feb. 23 crash that killed 28-year-old John Matthew Hajosy, the oldest of four children.

"When you're plastered, it's hard to remember what happened," O'Neill told a packed courtroom.

The defendant's blood-alcohol level was estimated between .27 and .35 percent at the time of the crash, which is three to four times the legal limit for driving and, according to a criminalist, translates to 24 to 40 drinks.

Gervais admitted drinking several beers and smoking marijuana before the accident.

O'Neill said the defendant was spotted driving south in the northbound lanes of state Route 125 about 2:10 a.m. on Feb. 23.

An El Cajon police officer tried to get Gervais' attention by flashing his lights at the wrong-way driver and tried to videotape what was happening, the judge said.

Eventually, Gervais got on state Route 94, driving his BMW west in the eastbound lanes up to about 80 mph, before crashing into Hajosy's car.

Hajosy died at the scene of head injuries and a lacerated spleen. A passenger riding in the back seat of Gervais' car was seriously injured.

Gervais told a probation officer that he has been drinking since he was 16 and smoking marijuana since the age of 13.

The defendant's attorney, Robert Boyce, said Gervais was a good candidate for probation and was dedicating the rest of his life to speaking to others about the dangers of drinking and driving.

But the judge, in denying probation, said Gervais was a "danger to the community."

Jane Hajosy said the accident that killed her son was "100 percent preventable."

"Drinking and driving is a choice," she said. "And it is wrong."

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