'I believe he should serve the max'

Luke Hamlin

La PORTE – A drunk driver whose pickup struck and critically injured a motorcyclist in unincorporated Michigan City in April has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.

Luke Patrick Hamlin, 38, appeared for sentencing in La Porte Circuit Court on Friday, at which time Judge Thomas Alevizos ordered him to serve 64 months in the Indiana Department of Correction. He also was ordered to pay $60,000 in restitution to the victim; and his driver’s license is suspended for six years effective immediately.

In exchange for pleading guilty to the Level 5 felony count he faced – operating while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury – three other OWI charges stemming from the same incident were dismissed.

According to court records, the crash in April resulted in Hamlin’s sixth OWI arrest. He has four prior OWI convictions; and at the time of his most recent arrest, was out on bond in his fifth OWI case, which remains pending in La Porte Superior Court 4.

Any sentence Hamlin receives in that case must be served consecutively to his sentence in the current case.

The victim in the most recent case, 34-year-old Jessica Yeakey, testified from the witness stand at the sentencing hearing Friday.

“I had a full-time job and did volunteer work before the accident,” she said, “I ended up losing my job, my apartment and my medical insurance. I loved to stay busy and do things; but now, all I can do is sit at home.

"I have always been independent and done everything on my own; and now, I have to rely on my family to take time out of their busy lives to help me get to therapy, doctors’ appointments, do my laundry, or even clean for me,” she said.

Yeakey provided an extensive list of her injuries, the results of Hamlin’s SUV striking her motorcycle: two broken femurs – one with a compound fracture; fractured left tibia and fibula; shattered right kneecap; cracked left hip; shifted pelvis; open laceration near her clavicle; sprained AC joint in left shoulder; two fractured bones and a sprained ligament in her left wrist; bruised and swollen tongue; and a concussion.

She said she underwent three surgeries her first week in the intensive care unit at South Bend Memorial Hospital. And she spent the next several weeks relearning how to walk, sit, stand and bend her knees. She also required speech therapy because of her concussion.

In August, Yeakey underwent another surgery on her left leg; and said she knows of at least one more operation still to come. She continues to undergo various physical therapies, which last a minimum of six hours daily.

“I have always been strong, but since the accident, I have had to deal with depression, anxiety, numerous meltdowns and pain,” Yeakey said. “Some days I get so frustrated, all I can do is sit and cry. Every day I deal with some form of pain, both physical and emotional.

“On top of everything else, I worry about when I’m going to be able to work again. What kind of job am I going to be able to handle since I can’t sit or stand for a long period at a time? How am I going to continue paying my bills, buying groceries and being able to care for both my dogs?”

Yeakey also expressed her anger at Hamlin.

“I’m frustrated with Mr. Hamlin because he has had numerous DUIs, and has walked away from all of them with just a slap on the wrist,” she said. “He has broken the law many times and has not learned his lesson. All I did was go for a ride on my motorcycle; and now, for the rest of my life, I will have to deal with the pain both physically and emotionally. …

“I believe he should serve the max in jail and then be required to go to rehab and lose his license. He almost took my life. I fear the next person won’t be as lucky.”

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department, Hamlin was turning into his driveway in the 6800 block of CR-450 North in unincorporated Michigan City when his GMC SUV struck Yeakey’s oncoming motorcycle shortly after 5 p.m. on April 8.

Hamlin reportedly told a responding officer, “I got off at 7 a.m. and have had 6-10 beers. You can just take me to jail. I’m gonna be over.”

At the scene, Hamlin reportedly failed three field sobriety tests and blew a 0.25 percent blood alcohol content reading on a portable breath test. A subsequent blood draw showed 0.261 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

The maximum amount of time Hamlin could have received for the Level 5 felony count to which he pleaded would have been 6 years.

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