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Driver who killed Colorado State Patrol cadet sentenced to life in prison plus 342 years

BOULDER, Colo. -- Friends, relatives and several troopers with the Colorado State Patrol were in court Tuesday as a judge handed down the sentence in the death of cadet Taylor Thyfault.

Christopher Gebers, 28, was handcuffed and wearing prison jumpsuit when he entered the courtroom.

Gebers struck and killed Thyfault and injured trooper Clinton Rushing on Highway 66 near Weld County Road 1 in May 2015.

Investigators said Gebers was speeding away after a trooper tried to pull him over because he had blue headlights on his car.

The CSP said Thyfault, 21, and Rushing, 37, were helping with an accident and tried to put out stop sticks to try to stop Gebers, who was heading toward the accident scene at a high rate of speed.

Cadet Taylor Thyfault and Trooper Clinton Rushing. (Photo: GoFundMe)

Cadet Taylor Thyfault and Trooper Clinton Rushing. (Photo: GoFundMe)

Gebers then allegedly swerved to try to avoid the stop sticks, hitting Rushing before losing control and striking Thyfault, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Rushing was hospitalized with critical injuries.

Rushing's wife told Boulder District Judge Ingrid Bakke on Tuesday that Gebers was going 60 mph when he hit her husband and Rushing has endured "indescribable pain." Rushing suffered broken bones in his arm, pelvis, leg and face.

"This was no accident," Bakke said. "It was a crash, meaning that decisions were made that resulted in tragedy, but not accidentally."

Troopers said Gebers told them the accelerator in his vehicle got stuck. Witnesses said Gebers was traveling 80 mph to 90 mph at the time of the accident.

Gebers was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder in September.

The conviction carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. But the sentencing hearing gave Thyfault's friends and family the chance to talk about the impact his death has had.

Thyfault's mother showed the judge pictures of her son and said he had always dreamed of joining the Army. She said he always wanted to protect people who couldn't protect themselves.

The hearing also provided a chance for attorneys on both sides of the case to discuss details about the investigation and Gebers' previous history and behavior after his arrest.

Gebers' defense attorney said Gebers was put in foster care at age 7 and was first arrested at age 10. Gebers apologized in court to the victims' families, his family and everyone impacted by the case.

"There's nothing I can say that's going to bring back Taylor," Gebers said. "There's nothing I can say that's going to make any of this go away or change it or anything. All I can say is I'm sorry. I know it doesn't mean anything to you guys. ... If I could take it back, I would."

In the end, Bakke sentenced Gebers to life in prison without parole for murder and attempted murder, plus 342 years for other charges.