A 24-year-old Boise man must serve at least five years in prison for driving drunk and crashing his car off Fairview Avenue on March 17, killing one passenger and injuring three others.
Austin Campbell, who pleaded guilty in June to felony vehicular manslaughter and aggravated driving under the influence, was sentenced Friday morning. He was sentenced to a total of 15 years but will be eligible for parole after five.
Campbell had a reported blood alcohol level of 0.211 at the time of the early morning crash and he admitted to smoking marijuana that day, according to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office. The legal limit for drivers is 0.08.
Ada County Prosecutor Katelyn Farley said prior to sentencing that Campbell had agreed to drive four friends home from a bar when he crashed. Jacob Cecil, 25, was killed in the crash. The other passengers were seriously injured, with one suffering a brain bleed and broken vertebrae.
“This was no accident. This was no mistake. This was choice the defendant made,” Farley said in court.
Campbell lost control of his vehicle while trying to exit the Connector at around 75 mph. The car traveled across an on-ramp, rolled on Fairview, and then went across Bluff Street and across a sidewalk. The vehicle rolled twice and ran into a cable box before hitting a utility pole. A bottle of whiskey was found at the scene.
When police arrived, Campbell initially denied being the driver of the vehicle and told officers that he did not know Cecil. Farley argued that Campbell’s behavior showed a lack of true remorse; instead, the suspect was more concerned about being charged with a crime.
Cecil’s mother spoke in court before sentencing, telling District Judge Deborah Bail that her son was so deeply woven into her family’s life that everything she does is a reminder of him.
“It’s difficult not to wonder what the future would have held for Jake, had his life not been cut short,” she said. “Everything about losing Jake has been unbearable.”
A second aggravated DUI charge Campbell faced was dismissed as part of a plea deal.
Campbell apologized in court, saying he loved his friends and he would give his life to bring Cecil’s back.
“I don’t feel that being the driver and surviving a wreck like that is fair to anyone,” Campbell told the judge.
Campbell said he did struggle with alcohol and knew his actions were reckless. He has prior convictions for driving under the influence and public intoxication.
Bail told Campbell prior to announcing the sentence that Campbell must learn to deal with alcohol abuse to prevent accidents.
“People who drink and drive make terrible decisions that impact everybody,” she said.