News

Alcohol, driving, death, prison

Remorse

not enough, judge rules

Judge Alan Hancock sounded melancholy, almost apologetic, when he sentenced the man responsible for a wreck that killed one passenger and grievously injured another.

Monday, the Island County Superior Court judge said he appreciates how Jonathan Everbeck, a 33-year-old Oak Harbor High School graduate, took responsibility for his actions and was remorseful. But he stressed that a prison sentence was an important deterrent for others.

“The time has long since past in our society that there can be any excuse for drinking and driving,” he said.

Hancock sentenced Everbeck to two years and three months in prison, the sentence proposed by the defense and prosecution as part of a plea bargain.

Everbeck, a Bellingham resident, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault in May. Under the versions of the charges he agreed to, Everbeck admitted to driving with disregard for the safety of others, but not to the more-serious charges that involve impaired driving.

Nevertheless, the crash did involve alcohol, according to the prosecutor, judge and police report.

In court Monday, Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme discussed the accident that occurred on Jones Road in North Whidbey Nov. 19, 2006. A group of friends were drinking at a party and Everbeck was persuaded to drive home because “he was considered least drunk,” Ohme said.

Everbeck wasn’t familiar with the truck or the roads. The vehicle went off the road at a curve and rolled. Three passengers in the back, none of whom were wearing seat belts, were thrown from the truck.

Everbeck’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Bellingham resident Bryn Boyd, died at the scene.

Another passenger, Paul "Jay" Thompson, was also ejected and severely injured. He suffered permanent brain damage so serious he can no longer speak.

“It’s a sad and tragic case,” Ohme said. “Every time I look at it, I feel depressed.”

Everbeck’s attorney, Craig Platt of Coupeville, said his client has been extremely remorseful and upset. Everbeck sobbed through most of the hearing. He tried to speak, but broke down after just a few words of apology.

One of his brothers, Richard Everbeck, also wept when he spoke. He said his brother lost “the love of his life” when Boyd died and has been in pain ever since.

His other brother, James Everbeck, explained that Jonathan lived with him and his son. He said his son is going to badly miss his uncle.

“He is a mentor and the pillar of our household,” he said.

Everbeck’s mother, June Austin, asked the judge for leniency. She said her son’s family is totally supportive of him.

But in the end, Hancock handed Everbeck the recommended sentence and told him that he needed to report to jail by 5:30 p.m.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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