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Jim Lewis
Jim Lewis
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Fatal DUI sentencing points to dangers from drunk drivers

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The recent sentencing of Matthew Burch in a fatal drunken-driving case in James City County is a sad reminder of the dangers innocent drivers face on our nation’s roads.

Burch, 36, was sentenced to 24 years in prison, WAVY-TV reported, in the death of Christopher Mellis, 19. I wrote about this tragic case earlier this year.

Burch had spent April 10, 2009 fishing and drinking beer at a pier in New Kent County before getting behind the wheel and driving into the oncoming lanes on U.S. Route 60, a four-lane divided road, in rural northern James City County.

Burch’s car collided head-on with a car driven by Christopher Mellis, 19. Mellis’s mother, Donna, has spoken passionately about the crash and its aftermath.

"I never, no matter what you’ve gone through in your life, there’s nothing to compare with the pain of losing your child," Donna Mellis told WAVY. "You might as well go out in the street with an uzi and start shooting, it’s no different."

Burch had a blood-alcohol content of 0.26, the Daily Press of Newport News said. It was his third-drunken-driving arrest.

"This was not an accident," James City County prosecutor Cathy Black said, according to the Daily Press "It was just a matter of time."

Burch ran from his car after the crash, the newspaper said, and authorities found him – with only minor injuries – standing with a group of onlookers.

Witnesses said Burch never bothered to check on his victim.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is a law firm which focuses on injury and accident law and our attorneys have handled thousands of car and truck accident cases. Check out our case results to see for yourself. In addition, check out our FREE special reports on distracted driving and The Best Guide to Car Accident injuries in Virginia. Our primary office in based in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) although our lawyers hold licenses in NC, SC, WV, KY and DC. We are ready to talk to you by phone right now—we provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at 1-800-752-0042. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube . Furthermore, our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard and Norfolk Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service.

(MM)