EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — It started with a bad decision to drive drunk last April. Now the driver, Travis Cox, 23, will be spending 12 years behind bars. But the man he hit, Dr. Conrad De Jesus, will spend the rest of his life paralyzed from the neck down.
“These things kill people and we want to make sure folks are safe, and we want to make sure there’s accountability,” Javier Lugo, the deputy prosecuting attorney in Vanderburgh County, said. “If you do drive drunk and if you drive drunk and you hurt people, you got to answer to that.”
A Vanderburgh County judge sentenced Cox to 12 years in jail Thursday morning. Cox pled guilty in November to driving drunk, criminal recklessness and leaving the scene of the accident after he hit De Jesus on Riverside Drive near the Casino. Lugo said the state asked for a lengthier sentence.
“We made that argument based on what the injuries were to Dr. De Jesus,” Lugo said. “He suffered severe, extreme injuries.”
Lugo said Cox’s prior conviction for drinking and driving also led the judge to agree on a harsher sentence. Officials said Cox had a BAC of 0.25 at the time of the crash.
“Hopefully people will get the message that you cannot do this, that you can hurt people, that you can hurt yourself, that you can hurt others,” Lugo said. “Don’t put yourself in that situation.”
Cox will be processed through the Department of Corrections – a cautionary tale and a small bit of closure for Dr. De Jesus and his family.
“This is a small step for the De Jesus family in terms of healing,” Lugo said. “Nothing can make this right, but we have a legal system for a reason and we feel like justice was served today.”
Lugo said with time served for good behavior, Cox could be out after nine years. Officials said the judge also ordered Cox to pay more than $400,000 to the De Jesus family to help with their medical bills.