LAS VEGAS (AP) — A driver who pleaded guilty to DUI charges after police say he plowed his car onto the patio of a Las Vegas restaurant during lunchtime last spring was ordered to 6 to 20 years in prison on Thursday.
Gage James Lindsey, 20, choked up and apologized to the 10 people who suffered injuries that included broken bones, burns and a collapsed lung, according to police.
“Words can’t even begin to express how sorry I am for the pain and suffering I have caused,” said Lindsey, who initially faced 32 to 80 years behind bars. “I thank God every day that I didn’t take anyone’s life, and I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I did.”
Prosecutors say Lindsey was under the influence of the prescription anti-anxiety medication Xanax, marijuana and synthetic marijuana when he crashed into the Egg & I restaurant west of the Las Vegas Strip on April 1, 2013. Police said he tried to run away but was stopped by bystanders who tackled him and held him for police.
Beatriz Guzman, who was eating with six of her family members when the car burst onto the outdoor dining area, described seeing her 16-year-old nephew trapped under the car and a bloody older woman buried under patio chairs.
“It was a horrible, horrible moment,” said Guzman, 35, who was visiting from Bakersfield, California. “That day was supposed to be a great day for us. We now have psychological, physical and emotional damage.”
Guzman said she took time off of work to help her family recuperate, but struggles with medical bills. She said her young daughter is now afraid of cars.
Lindsey pleaded guilty in May to two charges of felony DUI causing substantial bodily harm. Four other charges, including reckless driving and leaving the scene, were dropped as part of a plea deal.
His lawyer, Sean Sullivan, called the sentence fair and said Lindsey likely would have faced a much harsher penalty had the high-profile case gone to trial.
Lindsey said he hopes to finish his GED, get a job to start paying back victims, and help support his mother and younger brothers. After receiving credit for 486 days of jail time he already served, Lindsey could be out of jail at age 24.
“I’ve had 16 months to sit here and think about my life and my future, and I want to do nothing but good,” he said.