Thomas Burke, 68, of Garland was sentenced to four years in prison probated for four years and ten years deferred adjudication Thursday for causing a multiple vehicle wreck in downtown Sherman in March of 2018 that injured three people.
Burke was indicted on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of accident involving injury. In November, he pleaded guilty to two counts of accident involving injury and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Thursday, Judge Jim Fallon, in the 15th state district court, told Burke he was lucky no one was more seriously injured in the wreck.
“That was a long way to go from 75 to up here,” Fallon said referring to the trek Burke made from where he got off U.S. 75 at the Houston/ Lamar exit and then struck a car. He then went North on Lamar at a high rate of speed where he struck a service truck that then struck other cars.
Burke testified he didn’t remember anything after he got on U.S. Highway 75 near his home in Garland and headed to Lake Texoma.
Fallon said in sentencing Burke, he took into account Burke’s age and his lack of criminal history. Though Burke admitted to being a drinker for more than 30 years, he said it was mostly social drinking until shortly before the wreck happened.
In addition to the ten years deferred adjudication on the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Fallon also sentenced Burke to two terms of four years in prison on the accident involving injury charges and then probated those sentences for four years.
One of the vehicles that Burke struck caused another vehicle to be shoved into the front of the Touch of Class Antique Mall on Lamar Street.
Ivert and Jeanette Mayhugh who own the store, were in court Thursday. Burke said theirs was the only insurance claim still outstanding from the wreck. Ivert testified that they are working on finally fixing the front windows of the store but they are not able to get the exact type of glass that used in the original construction of the 141 year old building. He said they are having to use a reproduction product and are struggling with the process. He said to date, insurance has paid for about $130,000 worth of repairs from the wreck.
He said in addition to the damage to the building, they have suffered business disruption from the repairs.
“Hopefully it will be finished soon,” he said noting that he knows the other businesses downtown don’t like the scaffolding that is up right now.
Grayson County Constable Tom Carter, Precinct 1, testified to having witnessed the wreck. He said he was standing on the corner of Lamar and Travis streets when he heard a noise and he looked down the street to see a White SUV veering from lane to lane as it came east on Lamar Street. He said he watched as the collisions occurred.
“It was like a bomb went off,” Carter said of the impact between the SUV and the service truck.
“It just blew up,” he said.
Burke testified that he has been involved in various forms of rehab since the day of the wreck. He said he paid for a 30 day rehab out of his retirement account and it cost $30,000 at Enterhealth Residential Treatment Center in Van Alstyne. He then went to several different kinds of rehab including one called Self-Management and Recovery Training that eventually became certified to lead groups in. He said he even took shots of a substance called Vivitrol that are reported to eliminate the compulsion to drink and nullify the euphoria from drinking. He took the shots for a year.
He said he was deeply ashamed of his behavior on the day of the wreck and was very thankful that no one was seriously injured in the wreck. He said in addition to his desire not to ever drink again out of respect for the damage he caused, he said he suffers from a number of health conditions that make it unsafe for him to drink alcohol.
Burke was represented in the case by Sherman attorney Bob Jarvis. The case was prosecuted by Nathan Young and Vanessa Vice.