D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - A man with no prior criminal history will spend the next 20 years in prison, and a former Air Force fighter pilot will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair all because of a decision to drink and drive.
Charles Scrimpshire, 52, of Pass Christian, pled guilty this week to the crime of DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury. He was sentenced to the maximum allowable term of 25 years, but Circuit Court Judge John Gargiulo suspended five of those years.
The accident happened on a December morning in 2011 at the intersection of Sangani Boulevard and I-110. Witnesses said Scrimpshire was speeding, and ran a red light, hitting another vehicle turning left across I-110.
"Witnesses described the victim's truck rolling over several times before it burst into flames" said Assistant District Attorney George Huffman, who prosecuted the case. "One of the witnesses, Matthew Bigelow, was a firefighter with the Biloxi Fire Department. Without hesitation, he ran to the burning truck and pulled the victim from the flames, saving his life."
A blood test would later reveal that Scrimpshire's blood alcohol content was .16 percent, which is double the legal limit.
The man who was hit that day is now classified as a quadriplegic. After the accident, he spent seven months in various hospitals, and returned home confined to a wheelchair. Doctors have advised him that he will never have any more bodily function than he has today.
"Prior to sentencing, the victim described his life before the crash. He was a retired Air Force fighter pilot, and had spent the past 25 years as a commercial air line pilot. He also described the impact that the crash had on his relationship between himself and his wife, both gym enthusiasts," said Huffman. "It is in stark contrast to the life that they now lead."
Before imposing sentence, Judge Gargiulo noted that the victim ran the risk of incurring these types of injuries flying combat missions in defense of his country. Instead, he is in his current condition because of a drunk driver.
"This defendant made a choice to drive while intoxicated and, as a result, the lives of an entire family have been turned upside down" said District Attorney Joel Smith. "Judge Gargiulo's sentence should serve as a constant reminder to anyone making the deliberate choice to drink and drive."