Former soldier pleads guilty to drink driving in US crash that killed Irishman and his wife
A FORMER American soldier has pleaded guilty to drink driving and causing a crash that claimed the lives of Mayo man John Heneghan and his wife last May.
The 33-year-old Irishman died along with his wife Caitlyn Holtzman (32) when Dickie Winn’s pick-up truck smashed into them as they waited at a red light.
Three passengers who were with the couple also suffered injuries as they travelled to a wedding together.
In court this week in Saratoga County, New York, Dickie Winn admitted he was drunk and driving recklessly in his Dodge Ram when he ploughed into the couple’s car, killing them instantly.
The 59-year-old man, who had a blood alcohol reading twice the legal limit, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide in return for a promised sentence of six to 19 years in prison.
He could otherwise have faced a sentence of 25 years.
The plea agreement also calls for restitution and for Winn to use an ignition interlock device, which requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting a vehicle.
Winn, who served in the US Army for nearly 30 years and did several tours of duty, was ordered to surrender his driver’s licence and will be on probation for three years on release.
Friends and family of the victims were in court to witness the proceedings, it was reported. Winn, who is due to be sentenced in November, remains free on $300,000 (€270,000) bail bond.
The three other people in the car who suffered serious injuries were Julia Staples (24) and two other Irishmen Luke O’Doherty (25) and Enda Crowley (25).
John has lived in the States for a number of years and had married Caitlyn, from Pennsylvania, in 2016.
The tragic couple were cremated in June after a funeral service in Caitlyn’s native Pennsylvania.
John’s family held a funeral Mass for the couple at Tourmakeady on June 30 with plans for a private interment of the ashes.
At an earlier court hearing shortly after the fatal crash in May, a lawyer for Winn made an application for bail pointing to his long military service.
“He’s put his life on the line. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. He realises how serious this is. There may be some defences at this point, there might not. I haven’t gotten all the material.”
Judge James Hughes said despite Winn’s service record he was refusing bail. He added: “There are two dead people.”