A twice-convicted drunk driver who was high on meth when she hit and killed a woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Darren Vahle last week sentenced Cayla Lynn Cushman, 28, for the death of Alice Yuan, who was 60 years old when she was killed last year.
Cushman pleaded guilty Sept. 25, 2020, to vehicular homicide DUI in Yuan’s death. Other charges against her were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
“Whether you had a gun and killed someone or drove your car drunk and killed someone, a family is destroyed. The devastation you brought is overwhelming.” Vahle said in imposing the maximum sentence allowed under the plea agreement. “You had no right to drive, you had been using an illegal substance, yet you got behind the wheel, and that caused a death. … It was your choices and your decisions.”
On Feb. 16, 2020, Yuan was driving home from working a 10-hour shift at her restaurant job. She was on South Platte Canyon Road in Columbine Valley. Cushman was coming the other direction, driving 70 mph while high on meth. She crossed the center line and hit Yuan’s car. Yuan died at the scene.
Two of Yuan’s four daughters made statements at the Jan. 14 sentencing hearing, urging the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
“My family lost a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a grandmother to six grandchildren,” said one daughter who appeared in the courtroom in person. “She only stood 5 feet tall, yet she carried so much on her shoulders and did all this with a smile and a laugh.”
“Our father has been disabled for many years now, and our mother was by his side every day,” one said in a statement read by Senior Deputy District Attorney Megan Brewer. “The fact that the defendant was acting selfishly and decided to speed down a small street that is only 35 mph while under the influence and having been convicted twice prior upsets and infuriates me. … My mother did not deserve to die.”
Brewer asked the judge to impose a 12-year sentence. She noted Cushman’s previous convictions and that probation and substance abuse treatment had failed to alter Cushman’s behavior.
“We don’t know the real number of times this defendant has driven while under the influence, but we know she has been convicted twice,” Brewer said in her sentencing argument. “And this time she was under an interlock device, under the influence of meth, and she still chose to drive that night.”