BOULDER, Colo. — The driver who struck and permanently injured a cyclist in a hit-and-run crash in Boulder in 2019 was sentenced to two years in the Department of Corrections.
Stephen Gratton pleaded guilty on Oct. 22 to one count of attempted leaving the scene of an accident, and in exchange, two other counts were dismissed, court records show.
He was immediately sentenced to two years which was the stipulated sentence under the agreement.
"The stipulated sentence means that he will have served his time and likely be back on the road long before I reach the conclusion of my life sentence," Andrew Bernstein, the cyclist who was hit, said in a prepared statement to the court.
"I do feel that the punishment agreed to today is warranted and appropriate, but it is also not adequate to help me, while also doing little to prevent him from inflicting further harm on others."
On July 20, 2019, Bernstein was riding his bike west on the right shoulder of Highway 7, also called Arapahoe Road, around 4:30 p.m., when he was struck, according to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP).
In early August 2019, CSP said they located the van they believed was involved in the crash, but an arrest warrant for Gratton was not issued until November 2020. He was arrested in June of this year.
"This driver has demonstrated a wanton disregard for those around him and the utmost callousness toward me as a survivor of his violence by leaving the scene of the crash," Bernstein said. "Because he fled, we will never know if he was drunk or high when he hit me if he was distracted, if he was simply careless, or if he decided he hated me enough to drive into me."
Last year, Bernstein penned an open letter to the driver who hit and spoke with 9NEWS about it. Watch it below:
In court Friday, he again detailed the tremendous and lasting impact the crash has had on him both physically and financially.
"That crash caused massive blood loss, damage to my spinal cord, 35 broken bones, two collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, and a concussion," he said. "I was very fortunate to survive thanks to my own will, the keen eyes of an attentive motorist, the Lafayette fire department, and the Emergency Department at Boulder Community Health, which rendered my first emergent care."
Prior to the crash, he was a high-level athlete who had just returned from competing in a cycling national championship. Now he's unable to walk without assistance.
"In order to be able to stand before you today, and to have walked into this building with only my cane for support, I have engaged in as many as nine physical therapy sessions a week for the last two and a half years," he told the court.
He closed out his statement to the court by saying that he hopes his story might help others "remember their duty to be responsible on the road."
"I hope that it at least keeps someone else from suffering as I have," he said.
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