The drunk driver found guilty of causing a head-on collision that resulted in the death of a Mansfield man on New Year’s day in 2007 will spend the next eight years in prison.
Darren Fegan, of 463 Middle Turnpike (Route 44) in Mansfield, was pronounced dead following a head-on collision on Route 32 that occurred on Jan. 1, 2007 at about 2:45 a.m. He was 32 years old.
Behind the wheel of the other vehicle was Michael Knybel, 42, of 21 New City Road in Stafford, whose license was suspended after at least two prior DUI arrests, according to the State Department of Motor Vehicles.
Police say that on the night of the accident, Knybel’s blood alcohol content measured 0.106 – the legal limit is 0.08, and that a blood test indicated he’d used cocaine.
According to police, the accident occurred as Knybel was approaching the intersection of Route 32 and Plains Road and lost control of his 1996 Dodge Ram pickup truck as he came over the crest of a small hill. Knybel’s truck veered into the oncoming lane on Route 32 and struck Fegan’s 2000 Ford Expedition.
Police say Fegan was pronounced dead at Windham Community Memorial Hospital, the result of extensive head and chest injuries.
Knybel was originally charged with second- degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operating a motor vehicle under suspension, failure to keep right and failure to wear a seat belt.
He eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle and operating under the influence. His driver’s license also is permanently revoked.
Knybel was sentenced in Manchester Superior Court on Tuesday [Dec. 8] to a total of 12 years in prison, suspended after serving 8, with an additional 5 years of probation. Knybel also must pay a $2,000 fine for the DUI charge.
Darren Fegan’s family -his wife Xiomara (Capo) Bruder and their five children, his father Jack, mother Joan, and brother Brian – have endured a long judicial process strung out over too many court appearances, said his mother.
The sentencing was also painful. “It was like a funeral all over again,” Joan Fegan said.
She also said Knybel should have to spend more time in prison. Originally, the family pushed for at least 10 years.
She added that she plans to continue writing letters in support of changing state DUI laws, which she said she considers “a joke.”
In e-mail correspondence with the Chronicle, she and Darren’s father said they hope the state’s judicial system will improve someday soon.
“The court tells us as victims we have rights,” reads the e-mail. “But when do our rights kick in? … Our five grandchildren have lost their father, our daughter-in-law has lost her husband and our remaining son has lost his only sibling … My husband and I have lost a piece of us.”
She said the family will try to move forward, but it will be difficult. “To be honest with you, I don’t know where we go from here,” she said.
According to a report in the Dec. 9, 2009 edition of the Courant, Fegan also was driving under a suspended license on the night of the accident, because of a drunk-driving arrest the previous November, a fact the Courant report says was confirmed by Fegan’s wife.
Posted Dec. 9, 2009
Story originally reported by staff writer Caitlin M. Dineen, with additional information and editing by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan.