An Olympia man was sentenced Friday to 61/2 years in prison for his role in a fatal drunken driving collision.
Ryan Christopher Cughan, 38, appeared in shackles for his sentencing Friday in Thurston County Superior Court. He had pleaded guilty earlier this year to vehicular homicide.
On March 10, 2014, Cughan crashed a borrowed Jeep Cherokee into a tree in the Sunwood Lakes neighborhood east of Lacey. The crash killed his passenger, 59-year-old William Komula Jr. of Lacey. Police determined Cughan was intoxicated.
Prosecutors recommended the low end of the sentencing range at 78 months along with 18 months’ probation. Public defender Eric Pilon asked for an exceptional sentence of 60 months and cited Cughan’s mental health issues as well as his lack of criminal history.
Judge Anne Hirsch deferred to state sentencing guidelines.
“I don’t see how this rises to the level of an exceptional sentence,” said Hirsch, noting the defendant’s voluntary use of alcohol that contributed to the fatal crash. “You made an awful choice that day.”
Komula’s brother-in-law, Dennis Heryford, spoke to the court on behalf of the family. He said Komula was the oldest of four siblings raised on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and later served four years in the U.S. Navy. Komula left behind two sons as well as a granddaughter he never met.
“I thought the judge did the right thing,” Heryford told The Olympian regarding the heavier sentence.
Cughan read the court a letter he had written, saying that “life is fragile. Life is a gift to be cherished and nothing else.” He also apologized to Komula’s family.
“I hope Bill’s family can some day move past the sadness,” Cughan said. “I am truly sorry for my choices that day.”