A Castle Rock man was sentenced to eight years in prison for driving while impaired by marijuana and killing a young woman in a 4-car crash.
Douglas County District Court Judge Theresa Slade sentenced Francisco Alexi Sanchez, 20, for the death of Amanda Hill, who was 24 when she died.
“It wasn’t just the decision to get behind the wheel – it was a decision to take an illegal substance and then drive,” Slade told Sanchez in imposing the maximum sentence under terms of the plea agreement. “There are consequences for your decisions. The victims did not get the choice to make a decision that day.”
On March 7, 2018, Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular assault and one count of driving while ability impaired.
“When it comes to making drivers incapable of operating motor vehicles safely on our roads, marijuana once again proves it is just as deadly as alcohol. Here, another innocent life was snuffed out by someone who picked getting high on marijuana over his responsibility as a driver,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “It is unfortunate and unnecessary that Colorado’s weak laws do not promise a tougher penalty for impaired drivers who kill our innocent neighbors.”
On June 5, 2018, Hill was driving her Toyota Rav4 southbound on Crowfoot Valley Road, just north of Castle Rock.
Sanchez was driving a Saturn Vue northbound on Crowfoot Valley Road when he crossed a double yellow line and hit a Hyundai Santa Fe that was in the southbound lane. He then hit Amanda’s car head-on.
The Hyundai that had been hit crashed into a Chevy Equinox.
Hill was airlifted to a hospital but did not survive her injuries.
Numerous family and friends of Hill attended the sentencing, and several addressed the court.
“We have to live the rest of our lives without our beautiful daughter. This senseless act will cause us pain and suffering for the rest of our lives,” said her father, Ed Hill. “Those who did wrong must take responsibility for their actions. The message must be sent to those who do drugs and drive. The choice was made and there are consequences.”
Amanda Hill’s mother, Denise Hill, described living in a “black hole of grief.”
“The loss of our daughter was absolutely 100 percent preventable,” she said. “The defendant made reckless choices that fateful day. There must be consequences. We have to send a message.”
Even though Sanchez told investigators he had not been drinking or doing drugs, he tested positive for low levels of THC.
“The defendant did have THC in his bloodstream,” Deputy District Attorney Dan Warhola told the court during his sentencing argument on May 2. “Getting behind the wheel after ingesting marijuana is completely unacceptable and this defendant deserves the maximum sentence for the decision he made that resulted in Amanda’s death.”
Slade sentenced Sanchez to six years in the Department of Corrections on the vehicular homicide count; two years in prison on the vehicular assault count; and 180 days in jail on the DWAI. The counts are to run consecutively.
The judge suspended the jail sentence and one year for each of the DOC sentences upon successful completion of specified community service, substance abuse treatment, participation in victim impact panels and monitored sobriety.