Repeat drunk driver who caused fire near I-25 sentenced to 24 years

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Garrett Dean Neugebauer, 42, of Falcon, was sentenced to 24 years in the Department of Corrections.

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A man convicted of repeat DUI offenses whose latest alcohol-induced crime sparked a fire on I-25 has been sentenced to 24 years in the Department of Corrections as of Friday.

Garrett Dean Neugebauer, 42 of Falcon, has received 24 years in the DOC after being convicted on Oct. 23 on two counts of attempted first-degree assault with extreme indiffence, one count of vehicular eluding with injury, one count of driving under the influence with one prior conviction and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

Neugebauer had been on probation for a 2012 Larimer County alcohol-related case, with three previous alcohol-related convictions before this one became his fourth. He was also wanted in Otero County for a traffic case at the time of the incident.

Neugebauer, visibly emotional during the sentencing, cried as he thanked the judge for letting him address the court.

It began on the evening of Feb. 6, 2015, when the defendant had drinks at a business dinner in the Denver Metro area and then drove drunk towards his home in El Paso County, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Around 9:35 p.m., a witness reported seeing the defendant in the area of Castle Pines Parkway and Debbie Lane driving over several curbs and almost hitting two cars while driving on the wrong side of traffic.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office located the defendant and deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop near North Castleton Drive. The defendant responded to the deputies by slowly driving into the gas station, then quickly accelerating and driving his truck out of the location, striking a sedan that was stopped at a stop sign in the process.

Numerous DSCO deputies joined the pursuit and chased the defendant, who proceeded southbound on I-25, cutting and swerving in-and-out of traffic on the highway. The DA’s office says deputies reported the vehicle traveled above 100 mph.

The defendant then struck vehicles near the Plum Creek Parkway interchange. One car with two passengers was driving approximately 75 miles per hour when the defendant rear-ended the vehicle, forcing it to go in excess of 90 mph despite them attempting to brake their car.

DCSO deployed stop sticks and in the process, blew out the defendant’s front right tire. Instead of stopping, the defendant continued driving on the highway and about two or three miles later, apparent sparks from that tire caused a 579 foot brush fire in between mile posts 177 and 178.

The defendant continued to drive and pulled into a parking lot located in the southwest corner of Plum Creek Parkway and Wilcox Street. When the deputies approached the vehicle, he refused to comply, the DA’s office said.

The DA’s office reported that the defendant’s blood alcohol content was at a .269, over three times the legal limit.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo and Deputy District Attorney Megan Rasband tried this case.

“When we can look back at a crime and the best thing we can say is that we’re thankful no one died, it’s clear that the community was at serious risk of harm with the defendant’s actions,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo stated. “We’re thankful that the Judge recognized that and sentenced this defendant to a prison term that is appropriate for the gravity of his actions.”

“It’s by the grace of God that the victims were able to escape with their lives that night. Despite the defendant turning their sedan nearly into a hatchback, the two were able to maneuver away. Everyone who attempted to stop this defendant that night was in danger. The deputies who attempted to stop this defendant from killing others feared for their lives as well as those in the community,” Deputy District Attorney Megan Rasband stated. “The message to the community is clear: Drunk driving will result in serious consequences in Douglas County.”

 

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