Salina — A truck driver involved in a head-on collision two years ago that killed a Salina woman and her 10-month-old son has been sentenced to six months in jail.
Scott A. Wegrzyn, 40, of Staplehurst, Neb., pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide, avoiding a trial that may have explained whether a prior medical condition caused Wegrzyn to fall asleep at the wheel.
In May 2005, Wegrzyn's semitrailer crossed the median on Interstate 135 and struck an SUV, killing Amanda Hieronymus, 25, and William Hieronymus, 10 months, as well as critically injuring Amy Keller, also of Salina, and her son, Kolton Keller, 18 months.
"There is a certain degree of mystery in this case," Saline County District Judge Dan Boyer told Wegrzyn Friday. "Only you know what caused you to lose control of your vehicle."
In tearful testimony, the victims' family asked Boyer to sentence Wegrzyn to the maximum of two years in prison.
William Hieronymus II said he remembered his old routine of getting his son ready each morning and how the two would eat cereal and watch television together. He also said he remembered the knock on the door as a state trooper informed him of his wife's death and that his son was being flown to a Wichita hospital.
By the time he got there, he said, his son was brain dead.
"I try to go through a day without crying," Hieronymus said. "I wonder every day what (Will) would have grown up to be, what he would have stood for."
Prosecutors claim that Wegrzyn knew he suffered from sleep apnea, a medical condition that interferes with sleep, causing fatigue and drowsiness, but that he disregarded it.
Amy Hanley, as assistant Saline County attorney, said Wegrzyn couldn't get a clear commercial driver's license in 2004 because of his condition. She said driver's license regulations require medical treatment if the driver's sleep apnea is scored at 10 or more and Wegrzyn's condition was rated at 62.
Hanley said after his regular doctor gave him a provisional medical certificate, he went to another doctor.
"He didn't say a word about his sleep apnea," she said. "He was doctor-shopping, and he was getting around the rules."
Wegrzyn's attorney, Carl Cornwell, presented the court with letters from his client's acquaintances, attesting to his character. One letter said Wegrzyn had pulled an accident victim from a burning car, saving the person's life.
"This is not a case involving bad people," Boyer said.
Boyer sentenced Wegrzyn to two consecutive, one-year jail terms but suspended that in lieu of six months in jail and three years probation.
Wegrzyn showed little emotion during the hearing until asked if he had anything to say, at which point he fought back tears.
"The worst thing is there's a group of people that's going to hate me for the rest of my life," he said. "And I truly am sorry."