Ignacio woman Virginia Cundiff, 24, was sentenced to 15 months in La Plata County Jail on Friday for careless driving resulting in death.
Another sentencing hearing for Cundiff on careless driving resulting in bodily injury is pending.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Todd Norvell ordered that Cundiff is responsible for restitution, which is still being determined, and legal fees.
Cundiff, who didn’t have a valid drivers license at the time of the crash, spent seven months in county jail after killing the man and injuring another on Feb. 10 when she crashed into a work truck on Colorado Highway 172 about 2 miles south of Elmore’s Corner.
Dominic Sandoval, 24, and his work partner were setting up a work zone along the right shoulder when Cundiff crashed into them and their work truck at 55 mph, Norvell said.
Sandoval’s family filled nearly half of the courtroom’s public seating and several of his family members made impact statements for the court.
Diana Lee, Sandoval’s mother, said through tears that Cundiff took away her only son and her life will never be the same. Before Sandoval died, they were planning to move to Albuquerque in May 2022.
She said the accident occurred on federal land and asked why federal charges weren’t brought up. She said 18 months, the maximum sentencing Cundiff faced for pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges, is not enough.
Carlos Arriola, Sandoval’s brother-in-law, said in the short time he knew Sandoval he learned he was a “stand-up guy” and his death took a bad toll on the family. He said the worst part is that Sandoval will never get to watch his nieces grow up.
Ryanna Sandoval, Dominic Sandoval’s sister, said he was a family man who didn’t have kids of his own and found so much joy in his nieces.
She said she can’t remember the last time she’s enjoyed the taste of food. Sandoval was her support and someone she could confide in, and Cundiff took him away.
They said Cundiff should spend the rest of her life behind bars.
The public defender for Cundiff said his client is addressing drug addiction in jail and has a child waiting for her on the outside. He requested that she be sentenced to probation and drug addiction treatment.
Norvell said he hopes Cundiff is taking her drug addiction seriously, but her failure to exercise due care and caution when driving resulted in “catastrophic consequences” that cannot be undone, and he would not settle on probation.
He said there is no evidence Cundiff was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, and there’s no evidence she intended the crash, so a life sentence isn’t warranted.
But construction signs were present on the shoulder of the road and Cundiff had at least 12.5 seconds, more than enough time, to react to seeing Sandoval’s and his partner’s truck, he said. On Feb. 10, the weather was clear and, contrary to Cundiff’s initial claim – that the sun was in her eyes – the sun would have been at her back that time of day.
“This is too serious, too catastrophic (for probation),” he said.
Cundiff said her goal is to find a way to honor Sandoval.
“This will forever be a part of me,” she said.