A driver who struck and killed a Parker resident who was riding his bicycle last year was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison.
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A driver who struck and killed a Parker bicyclist last year, then fled the scene, was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison.
Preston James Dorris, 37, of Nebraska, had been charged with driving on South Pine Drive the morning of July 4, 2019, striking Edward “Chuck” Vogel while Vogel rode his bike. Dorris struck Vogel near Parker Core Knowledge, at 11661 Pine Drive, then abandoned his vehicle at a nearby apartment complex and fled, according to the charges.
Vogel succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital the next day. He was 64.
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies arrested Dorris July 12, 2019, near Alliance, Nebraska.
Dorris pleaded guilty to one count of leaving the scene of an accident, for which he was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison, and one count of vehicular homicide, for which he was sentenced to six more years.
Dorris was not found guilty of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he struck Vogel.
Judge Theresa Slade of the 18th Judicial District sentenced Dorris in a virtual hearing through Cisco Webex.
“Life is fragile enough without people doing the things that you did,” Slade said. “We don’t want that. We don’t need that. We don’t need those kinds of actions.”
Dorris initially faced an additional count of robbery, which was dropped in a plea agreement.
Judge Slade said Dorris had several opportunities to receive a lighter sentence, given that Dorris was not proven to be drunk or high while driving. Some speakers in Vogel’s camp argued the cyclist's life could have been saved had Dorris stopped to assist him immediately. Slade added it would have been better, still, if Dorris called 911 even after he fled the scene of the collision.
Friends and family of Vogel -- including his neighbors, his children and his wife, Teri -- spoke during the hearing, describing their feelings of loss since Vogel died. All painted Vogel as a kind-hearted, generous man who always had time to talk and loved spending time with people and the outdoors.
“He wasn’t only my husband, but he was my best friend,” Teri Vogel said. “My soulmate, my partner … and my teammate. Now, I’m the only person on that team.”
Teri and Chuck Vogel met in high school in El Paso, Texas, and were married for 40 years.
“This was a man of integrity. He was very loyal and he had such a passion for life,” Teri Vogel said. “He loved life, he loved his family, he loved me. He would have taken the opportunity to pay it forward whenever possible.”
Chuck Vogel was extremely humble, Teri said, and didn’t like the limelight. Nine people, excluding his two kids and Teri, spoke for roughly two hours on Vogel’s character.
After acknowledging the kind words her friends and neighbors said about Chuck and his distaste for the limelight, Teri added, “Sorry honey, that’s who you were.”
“He did not want recognition for any of it,” Teri said. “He had a satisfaction of knowing that, somehow, he had made a difference, and that was enough for him and that’s what mattered to him.”
Chuck Vogel's son, Bryan Vogel, said during the sentencing that his newborn son, like himself, will have to know the pain of growing up without one of his grandfathers.
Chuck Vogel worked in retail for 37 years. He spent most of his free time volunteering with the Parker Task Force and other community organizations.
Dorris had a rap sheet “three pages long,” according to Slade, and more than 20 incidents on his record, mostly in Nebraska. Slade added that Dorris was sentenced to at least one year in prison every year since 2006.
Dorris, who agreed to have the Vogel family present at the Douglas County Court House, apologized to the Vogels and told Slade he takes accountability for his actions.
Slade, however, said she saw through Dorris’ statement, implying it could have been rehearsed, based on the number of things he said “right”—such as apologizing, taking accountability and promising to use his prison time to reform himself.
Dorris’ rap sheet, and Slade’s impression of Dorris’ lack of genuineness while addressing the court and the family, led Slade to the 18-year sentencing, she said.
“I don’t believe you genuinely understand and believe (what you said),” Slade said, pointing to his criminal record. “This was not an accident. You didn’t hit a mailbox. You weren’t turning yourself in.”
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