FORT WAYNE – The past few weeks were a struggle for the Bebout family as the family celebrated its first Christmas without their beloved patriarch and matriarch – Harold, 79, and Starr, 74.
The couple were killed in May after Corina Hurtado plowed her truck into their minivan.
And the family’s still-raw grief was in full view Friday during a lengthy sentencing hearing for Hurtado, 50, who pleaded guilty to two charges of operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in her system and causing death.
Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck sentenced Hurtado to 40 years in prison and ordered her to pay $25,270 in restitution.
Surbeck noted the family’s grief but said he could not give that a great deal of weight in determining Hurtado’s prison sentence.
What he could consider, and did, was the nature of the crime – that Hurtado was driving under the influence and fleeing a minor property-damage crash at high speed in a large vehicle.
On May 8, Hurtado, of the 4100 block of Harris Road, was in the lot of Straley’s Auto Sales, 1923 Broadway, and backed her pickup truck into a parked, unoccupied car. Workers at the auto lot tried to stop her, but she drove off, tearing up Taylor Street at an increasing rate of speed, according to witnesses.
At the intersection of Fairfield Avenue and Taylor, she barreled into the driver’s side door of the Bebout’s van. Harold died at the scene. His wife of more than 53 years died five days later, on Mother’s Day.
At the crash scene, Hurtado’s speech was slurred and she smelled of alcohol, according to police.
The crash left Hurtado with serious injuries, and she was taken to Lutheran Hospital. Nearly two hours after the 9:15 a.m. crash, blood tests taken at the hospital showed cocaine in her system and a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.8 percent.
Hurtado’s family and friends asked for leniency from the judge, tearfully describing her work with local charities and advocacy within the community.
Six months before ingesting a deadly cocktail of cocaine, sleeping pills and alcohol, then climbing behind the wheel of a large Ford F-250 pickup, Hurtado was profiled in Today’s Catholic, a publication of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese.
She had worked as a Hispanic health advocate for Catholic Charities.
She has been a good woman, said her husband, Pablo Hurtado. She made a huge mistake.
But Albert Bebout, the victims’ oldest son, characterized Corina Hurtado’s actions as killing someone with a weapon.
You got into that vehicle, in the condition you were in, you loaded that weapon, he said. When you put that weapon in drive, (and) you maxed that gas pedal, you shot that weapon.
Margaret Sorgen, one of the Bebout’s daughters, is married to a Fort Wayne firefighter who responded to the crash that day.
We shouldn’t be here today, she said. We shouldn’t be grieving. This is all wrong.