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Man gets 5 years in fatal accident

September 12, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - A 75-year-old Clear Spring man was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for a December 2005 accident that claimed the life of a 21-year-old man.

Wayne Eugene Baker Sr. pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter in June.

Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced Baker to serve 10 years for a vehicular manslaughter conviction - half of which was suspended - and a concurrent year for driving under the influence.

Dalen Snell, 21, was killed instantly when Baker's 2001 Ford Focus struck a 2001 Saturn driven by Justin Davis head-on on U.S. 40 near Burkholder Lane at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2005.

"He hit that car so hard it ripped Dalen's heart from his chest," Snell's mother, Ellen Turner, said through tears. "I read that autopsy report. He died instantly. Perhaps that was a blessing."

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Turner said she raised her four children by herself. No sentence will replace the life of her son, she told Long.

"They're my whole life, and now 1/4 of that life is gone," she said through tears.

Davis was confined to a wheelchair after the accident and was honorably discharged from the Navy, said Washington County Assistant State's Attorney John B. Dunlap.

Dunlap said Baker drove to Thurmont, Md., earlier in the day, drank beer and then drove to Washington County and continued drinking.

Baker's blood-alcohol content was measured nearly three hours after the accident at .11.

Baker told Long, "I am terribly sorry for what happened and how it happened, but you don't have any control over that."

Long told Baker, "Your actions took the life of one young man and seriously injured another young man. Mr. Davis will always have reminders."

Baker's attorney, John Salvatore, told Long that Baker knows what it is like to lose someone. He said that when Baker's wife died, he began drinking again.

Dunlap said that during Baker's presentence investigation, he expressed remorse, but said, "he believed God had a role in it. It may have been his time."

"Dalen Snell was too young to touch the face of his maker," he said.

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