Driver feels ‘guilt and remorse’ after fatal wreck

Smith asks judge to release him at 300-day mark

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SUBLETTE COUNTY – A man who admitted causing a July 14, 2020, fatal collision – but not that he was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time – asked for the second half of his one-year jail sentence to be modified to community service.

More recently, he later asked to be released after 300 days of good behavior.

Alex W. Smith, then of Colorado, pleaded guilty with a 2022 agreement that reduced his felony charges of aggravated vehicular homicide due to reckless driving, to the misdemeanor of homicide by vehicle, records show.

Smith’s one-year jail term at the Sublette County Detention Center is scheduled to end April 6. 

History

Smith’s white Ford 150 pickup crossed Highway 191’s center line near the Hoback Rim and collided with a blue 2006 Ford Mustang, killing its driver Gerald I. Fagerhaug of Castlerock, Colo.

Smith was life-flighted after the collision; no one took any blood samples, focusing instead on saving his life, according to court records. That lack meant Smith’s suspected blood-alcohol content could not be proven at trial.

“The proposed amendment is in the interest of justice in light of the limited evidence available to the state, were this matter to go to trial as presently charged,” wrote then-Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson.

Judge Tyler approved the motion, canceled the trial and remanded the misdemeanor charge to Circuit Court, where the maximum penalty was one year in jail and $2,000 fine.

‘Paltry’

In an emotional handwritten letter of Sept. 8, 2022, Smith told Judge Haws that his 365-day sentence seems “paltry … with no toils of daily life, no bills or rent, no 5 a.m. alarms to work manual labor, no deadlines or demands.”

Smith wrote: “This nightmare, the death of an innocent man, father and husband, has caused me immense pain to so many people, a fraction of what I myself will ever endure. Guilt and remorse will forever guide me.”

Being in jail doesn’t seem like enough punishment, Smith said.

“In jail I can sleep all day, spend hours playing cards, ping pong and basketball and almost infinite time for my favorite hobby reading,” he said. “It seems incredibly unfair that I get to relax and hang out for a year without any real suffering or purpose.”

Smith continued, “I know God brought me back from death three times for a reason, to be of service to the needy, sick and impoverished in the image of his son Jesus.”

He “humbly” asked Judge Haws to concert the second half of his sentence to community service so he could use his “second chance to help others.” 

Hearing

On Feb. 6, Smith wrote the judge a second letter asking for “release from incarceration based on time served and good behavior.”

He had been incarcerated for 300 days, trying to avoid any incidents and to be a model inmate. Before sentencing, Smith said, was “already deterred from allowing anything like the tragic accident from ever happening again. Remorse, intense guilt, the destruction of my body, dying in my mother’s arms, the financial ruin and trauma that I took an innocent life were incredible and sufficient deterrent.”

However, the past 300 days in jail had been “spirit crushing and miserable,” he said. Smith would never do anything to put himself in jail again, he said, and asked for his release so I can heal and make amends by devoting my second chance at life to be (of) service to others.”

Judge Haws set Smith’s sentence modification hearing for Feb. 27 in Circuit Court.

“After hearing from all parties, the Court finds that the sentence originally opposed in this matter was fair and just, and that no good cause exists to reduce that sentence,” Judge Haws ordered on Feb. 27, denying Smith’s sentence reduction motion.

Smith initially faced two felony charges – aggravated vehicular homicide under the influence of alcohol and aggravated vehicular homicide with reckless driving. He was arrested in late April 2021 and brought to Sublette County, where he pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 surety bond.

Later, Crosson requested dismissal of the reckless driving charge, which 9th District Judge Marv Tyler allowed. Smith’s jury trial on May 9, 2022, was vacated