La PORTE – A La Porte County man charged with hitting a motorcyclist while driving drunk in April pleaded guilty last week.
Luke Patrick Hamlin, 37, will return to La Porte Circuit Court for sentencing on Sept. 13.
In exchange for his guilty plea to a Level 5 felony count of operating while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury with a prior conviction, Hamlin will be sentenced at Judge Tom Alevizos’ discretion to a term between one and six years in prison, “any or all of which may be fully executed or suspended and served on probation,” according to a statement of plea agreement filed in Circuit Court on July 12.
He also must pay restitution to the victim, Jessica Yeakey, who continues to be unable to work, and must attend multiple therapy and doctor appointments weekly as a result of the crash.
The second Level 5 felony OWI count Hamlin faces, and his two Level 6 felony OWI counts will be dismissed upon sentencing.
Deputy Prosecutor Atley Price said Friday, “Sentencing will be argued with the judge deciding the terms. It is essentially the same as if he were convicted after a trial.”
According to the police report in the case, Hamlin was turning into his driveway in the 6800 block of CR-450 North in unincorporated Michigan City when his GMC SUV slammed into an oncoming motorcyclist on April 8, 2019.
“I got off at 7 a.m. and have had 6-10 beers,” Hamlin reportedly told a La Porte County Sheriff’s deputy at the scene. “You can just take me to jail, I’m gonna be over.”
The deputy goes on to describe the ways in which Hamlin failed three field sobriety tests, blew a 0.25 percent blood alcohol content reading on a portable breath test; and submitted later to a blood test that showed 0.261 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
Yeakey, then 33, was transported from the scene to Franciscan Health Michigan City, but her critical condition required her to be airlifted from there to South Bend Memorial Hospital.
The biker sustained two broken femurs, a broken wrist, broken clavicle and various other injuries requiring multiple surgeries and ongoing therapy.
When he was arrested for hitting Yeakey, Hamlin was free on bond in a case filed in August, in which he was charged with felony OWI with a prior conviction, misdemeanor OWI with alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher, and infractions including exceeding the speed limit of 55 mph and driving with an open alcoholic beverage in his vehicle.