Driver gets long sentence for wreck that killed man

Tacoma - Scott Michael Buskeness cried for the victims, apologized to their relatives and took responsibility Friday for causing a fatal car wreck last year.

It wasn’t enough to sway Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson to have mercy on him.

Cuthbertson rejected a mid-range sentencing recommendation worked out between Buskeness’ attorney, Dana Ryan, and deputy prosecutor Tim Jones and instead gave Buskeness the high end of the sentencing range: 12 years in prison.

“I believe you are a danger to this community,” Cuthbertson said, citing Buskeness’ 19 previous felony convictions. “I think it will take a while for you to think about how much of a danger you are.”

Buskeness pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault for the Dec. 8, 2008, crash that killed 34-year-old Richard W. Pennington Jr. and injured two women – Jamie Rainford and Michele Tuskey.

Rainford, 33, died the next day, but the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled she’d died of causes unrelated to the wreck.

In arguing for a sentence of 10 years, six months, Jones told Cuthbertson that blood drawn from Buskeness the night of the wreck on Highway 7 in Spanaway contained traces of methamphetamine and marijuana.

Tuskey addressed Cuthbertson before sentencing.

She said she still suffers from the injuries caused by the wreck and also carries the mental burden of being the only survivor from Pennington’s car.

“I feel guilty about it because I’m the only survivor in the vehicle, and I can never bring them back,” Tuskey said.

Kristine Warren, Rainford’s sister, said her family forgives Buskeness and hopes he learns from his mistakes.

Buskeness admitted he’s long battled a meth addiction but said he wasn’t high the night of the wreck, only tired. He still blamed himself for what happened.

“I wish I could take that night back, but we all know that can’t happen,” he said.