Graham, NC -- A man who admitted he killed a 17-year-old and seriously injured a Good Samaritan in a drunk driving crash last year pleaded guilty Tuesday and will spend more than three years in prison.
Curtis Lutterloh pleaded guilty to charges of felony death by vehicle and felony serious injury by vehicle. He admitted to being drunk behind the wheel when he slammed into 17-year-old Darren Jones and 38-year-old Carl Wheeler in the early-morning hours of July 24, 2011. The pair were pushing a minivan that had run out of gas to the side of the ramp along Exit 147 off Interstate 40/85.
Jones' brother was driving the van when it ran out of gas around 2:30 a.m. The teenager came to his brother's aid and Wheeler also stopped to help.
In court Tuesday, an assistant district attorney said Lutterloh was driving 65 miles per hour when the crash happened. His blood alcohol content, the attorney said, was 0.19 -- more than twice the legal limit. Jones died on the way to the hospital after going through Lutterloh's windshield. Wheeler was permanently disabled from the crash.
A judge sentenced Lutterloh to a combined total of at least 41 months and a maximum of 59 months in prison on both charges.
In court, Jones' cousin read letters from several family members, including the teenager's parents. His father wrote that "there's not a day that goes by that I do not cry" about his son's death. He also wrote that he misses his "hunting and fishing buddy."
Jones' mother wrote that her son had a "great sense of humor" and "an unbreakable bond to family." That dedication to his family is ultimately what put him in the tragic position along the exit ramp.
Wheeler has three children, but is now confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. His mother, who also addressed the court, has to take care of him around-the-clock.
Lutterloh's sister asked the judge for leniency in court and told both Jones and Wheeler's families that "in spite of who you think he is and what you think he is, he's still my brother and he'll always be my brother." She said she prays for their families and hers every day.
Lutterloh did not speak to the victims' families.
In addition to the active prison sentence, Lutterloh must also pay Jones' family more than $3,000 in restitution and Wheeler's family more than $1,400 in restitution.
WFMY News 2