Gaire Rudnik of Brush, Colo. was sentenced Thursday to six separate, specified days in jail for his part in a wreck that took the life of a young North Platte woman.Rudnik was sentenced for motor vehicle homicide, a class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to going to jail at significant times during the next two years, he will also be on probation for 18 months and his driver’s license will be suspended for a year.
On Oct. 20, Rudnik, 27, was driving a semi-truck loaded with cattle, northbound on U.S. Highway 83. He failed to stop at a red light at the intersection of State Farm Road and hit a westbound pickup driven by Cassandra Lum, 27, of North Platte.
Lum suffered head injuries and was transported to Kearney. She died 11 days later.
Rudnick pled no contest to the charge.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Tanya Roberts-Connick said prosecutors would not oppose probation, after looking over the full report. There were no other contributing factors.
“It was an unfortunate accident, and something he will have to live with the rest of his life,” Roberts-Connick said.
Defense Attorney Robert Lindemeier agreed it was a tragic situation, “clearly an accident caused by the negligence of my client.”
“He has remorse,” Lindemeier said. “He recognizes the hurt and frustration the victim’s family feels.”
Lindemeier reminded the judge that “these are the types of cases that receive probation. He is not walking away scot free. It will cost him his job, which in no way compares to the loss of a life, but he has to support his family and he will remember this the rest of his life.”
Rudnik did not speak on his own behalf.
Before sentencing, Lincoln County Judge Kent Turnbull spoke to Lum family members that were in the courtroom.
“I read each and every letter you sent me, and I appreciate all your comments,” Turnbull said. “There is nothing that I do today that will change things. Nothing I can do to bring her back. I would if I could.”
“My job is to follow the law. I don’t deal with mercy or vengeance,” he said.
Then Turnbull turned his attention to Rudnik.
“There is no question you will live with this and remember it,” he said. “and, if the family agrees, my sentence will include a way that you will remember it at least 4-6 times.”
Along with probation, Turnbull sentenced Rudnik to serve a day in jail on Oct. 20 for two years. Oct. 20 is day of the wreck. He was also sentenced to spend Aug. 31 in jail -- this year and next -- the victim’s birthday.
Also, Rudnik was sentenced to spend Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 in jail this year.
Turnbull said Christmas is a tough time for people who have lost loved ones and that is when they reflect and feel the loss the most.
In reply, Rudnik said his wife was pregnant, with the baby due in January. He asked if he might serve the Christmas jail time in Colorado.
“No, Christmas is not in January,” Turnbull said. “You will spend all of your jail time here, regardless.”
Turnbull also revoked his license for a year. However, since Rudnik has a Colorado license, it will be up to Colorado to carry out that ruling.
“I don’t have jurisdiction over them,” Turnbull said. “I will turn it in to DMV and they will inform Colorado.”
Family members declined to comment afterwards, saying it would be too emotional.