Diane Patten, who in March pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide in the July 2, 2019, deaths of Travis Allen and Linda York, will receive a sentence of 8 years in the Department of Corrections.
Eleventh Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Murphy said the sentence will not be imposed immediately due to COVID-19 concerns at the Chaffee County Detention Center following the recent discovery of a positive case of the virus within the female population of the facility
Patten, who is in her 70s and has other health concerns is in the high risk population. Murphy said he believed a prison sentence was appropriate, but not a death sentence.
He set the imposition of sentence out 3 weeks to give the DOC time to address the situation and to make plans for Patten’s incarceration.
Before the sentence was announced by 11th Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Murphy, family members of the Yorks and Patten had the opportunity to address the court.
Diane York Sickman, a sister of Travis York said no one “twisted” Patten’s arm to drink and drive.
“I can’t believe I’ll never get to see my brother again. I believe they should have gotten to die of old age, not at the hands of a drunken driver,” Sickman said.
Several other York family members recounted how the couple were central to the family. Daughter Heather York said her mother and father were the “foundation of our family.”
All of those who spoke for the York family indicated they favored the maximum sentence of 12 years in the Department of Corrections for Patten.
Patten’s brother and sister spoke about their sister’s contributions as a social worker and advocate for women and girls in crisis.
Several letters from the family and friends of the Yorks and Patten were also taken into consideration by Murphy.
Deputy District Attorney Brian Andris, addressed the court and said while there was no doubt Patten was a good person, the series of choices she made that day led to the “senseless, tragic and horrific” events of July 2.
“This was not an accident. This was a crash,” he said.
Andris recounted a witness’s observation of a white Nissan swerving and passing cars on the Gunnison side of Monarch Pass. The driver’s actions prompted her to try to call 911 to report the car, but she had no cell service.
Upon coming over the pass, she met the scene of the crash of the Nissan and the Yorks’ Harley Davidson tricycle.
The Nissan, which was headed eastbound was two lanes over in the westbound lane and no skid marks were apparent.
“There was no question of who was at fault,” Andris said.
The motorized tricycle had tried to avoid the Nissan, but had little reaction time at the top, and no chance to avoid being hit, he said.
Patten’s blood alcohol content was found to be .131 percent following the crash, .058 percent over the legal impairment limit of .08 percent.
Seven empty beer bottles and two pipes with marijuana residue were found in the Nissan.
Patten admitted to a Colorado State Trooper that she had been drinking beer while driving.
Defense attorney Ryan Drengler asked the court to consider community corrections in El Paso County and probation for Patten, citing her age, lack of a record and full compliance with bond conditions during the last year.
He raised the question of whether previous health concerns resulting from a history of synchope, or temporary loss of consciousness due to insufficient blood flow to the brain might have contributed to the crash.
Patten then made a statement apologizing to the York family and said, “That day was the worst day that ever happened to me.”
She said as a result of the crash, she doesn’t ever see herself drinking or driving again.
He said Patten had in her favor her lack of criminal record, bond compliance and the lowest risk level he had seen, which prompted him to not impose the maximum sentence.
Murphy said Patten was at the core a good person which makes a double tragedy of these kinds of cases.
The idea of Patten fainting was largely debunked by the witness who reported the bad driving by the driver of the Nissan on the Gunnison side, he said.
One of the things he said he needed to consider in sentencing Patten was the deterrent message to others that with that level of alcohol and killing two people “you will go to prison.”
He also said the victims need to feel some sense that justice was served.
Murphy set the imposition of sentence for 1:30 p.m. July 21. At that time family members will be able to witness Patten being officially taken into custody via Webex.