FOND DU LAC, Wisc. (WLUK/WOOD) — A man who crashed his car into a group of Muskegon-area motorcyclists in Wisconsin, killing two of them, will spend at least eight years behind bars.
Clinton Lovelace was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison, 15 years of extended supervision and seven years probation, according to WOOD TV8′s Green Bay sister station WLUK.
“I can’t begin to explain how horrible I feel that this has happened and I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the court, the people, the families and everyone who died and was injured,” Lovelace said in court.
On May 31, 2012, Lovelace’s car crossed the center line of Highway 151 in Fond du Lac County and barreled into a group of 12 motorcyclists from the Muskegon Motorcycle Gang. 10 of the motorcycles were struck.
Dan Winsemius and Doug Yonkers were killed. Eight other motorcyclists were injured.
“I saw Dan take his last breath. It would have been me if he had gone to the right and I had gone to the left, it would have been me taking my last breath. I hope Mr. Lovelace goes away for a long time,” crash survivor Lee Johnson said, according to WLUK.
There were small amounts of both Oxycodone and marijuana in Lovelace’s system at the time.
“Two people are dead, eight were significantly injured, dozens if not hundreds of people were significantly affected by this crime,” Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Tooney said Thursday.
The judge struggled to clearly express the magnitude of the situation.
“The effect of this case, the carnage, is staggering — beyond one’s ability to grasp or understand,” Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Gary Sharpe said.
In September 2012, Lovelace pleaded no contest in Fond du Lac County (Wisc.) to two counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. He also entered an Alford plea to three counts of second-degree reckless injury. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction.
The prosecution had requested a 20-year prison sentence, but Sharpe said that was too much.
“I’d be happier if it was 20 years. But am I severely disappointed? No, I’m not. Eight years for a 27-year-old kid, that is a substantial time,” crash survivor Brad Groom said.
Members of Lovelace’s family also expressed relief over a sentence that left no one completely satisfied.
“It’s hard to take in everything that has happened in the last year and a half. And I think the judge was certainly as reasonable as he could be given the gravity of the situation,” Lovelace’s cousin Ellen Mommaert said.
Groom said the members of his club and their families are looking forward to putting the case behind them.
“I’m very relieved that this process is finally coming to an end. It’s been dragging on for a very long time,” Groom said.