Drunken driver given 3 years for crash that killed friend

Judge notes long record of speeding, drunken driving, minor crimes

September 28, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man with a dec- adelong record of speeding, drunken driving and minor crimes told an Anne Arundel County judge yesterday that he is so haunted by the drunken-driving crash he caused, which killed his best friend and nearly ruined his brother's business, that he can't sleep, has stopped drinking and works, despite injuries, to help keep the business afloat.

Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck said he did not doubt the sincerity of Sundance James Fischer but pointed to the 29-year-old's crime and record.

He sentenced Fischer, a resident of the 1200 block of Tyler Ave., to three years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation. Manck suspended two years in prison and said he will consider adjusting the sentence based on a formal request to do so filed by defense lawyer Gill Cochran.

Guilty plea

Fischer pleaded guilty in July to homicide by automobile while intoxicated in the April 10, 1998, death of David B. Bock, 28, of Edgewater. Fischer was driving his brother's pickup truck when the vehicle, estimated to have been traveling at more than twice the speed limit of 30 mph, veered off Old Generals Highway and into a telephone pole near the intersection at Route 178 in Crownsville.

Two hours after the crash, Fischer's blood alcohol level registered 0.20, twice what the state considers legally drunk, police said. Fischer and a second passenger were injured.

The three men worked for Fischer's brother, Dutch, a landscaper, and had been out drinking. Dutch Fischer described the men as hard workers and "hard partyers." The fatal crash has changed his brother into a more responsible person, he said.

Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler, who sought the maximum sentence of five years in prison, and the victim's father, Richard Bock, said they hope Fischer will learn from the experience.

"The best thing that can happen to a parent is the birth of a child. The worst thing that can happen to a parent is the death of a child," Bock said, choking back tears. He said he hopes the date of the accident "never goes out of Sundance's mind. It will never go out of mine."

Apologizing to Bock, Fischer said he will never forget it.

Stopped drinking

Fischer said he wakes with a jolt at 5 a.m. daily, the same time he awoke in a hospital to learn what had happened. He has not had a drink since, is in therapy with a drug- and alcohol-abuse counselor, and works nearly without pay, despite painful injuries, to try to repay his brother, he said.

"I've caused so much pain to so many people," Fischer said, explaining that the crash nearly ruined his brother's business, which supports the family and might be sued.

Fischer's record includes one probation before judgment in 1989 for drunken driving, a year's probation in 1990 for driving under the influence, a half-dozen speeding tickets, three marijuana violations and possession of a handgun in a vehicle. He was never jailed for the crimes but served time in the county jail for violating probation terms and has had several driver's license suspensions.

"I've had a long time to look back at my life, and I do not like what I see," Fischer said.

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