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Wrong-way DUI driver gets 15 years in fatal crash

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – In a packed courtroom Tuesday, 35-year-old Elizabeth Long was sentenced to 15 years in prison for driving drunk in the wrong direction on Interstate 25, killing another woman in 2010.

Long had pleaded guilty to eight felony counts including vehicular homicide, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

On the night of July 5, 2010, Long drove her Toyota Rav4 southbound in the northbound lanes of I-25 near 120th Avenue. She struck at least one car near the 92nd Avenue exit, seriously injuring the driver.

Long then continued south on I-25 to 58th Avenue where she collided with a 1991 Honda Accord carrying 22-year-old Mary Warren of Fort Collins who was killed instantly

Long’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.252 – more than three times the legal DUI limit.

“Mary was a fighter,” David Swanson, Mary’s brother, told the court prior to the sentence being handed down Tuesday. “If she was a quadriplegic in a wheel chair, she would still be fighting. It took this (crash) to stop her.”

Warren’s sister, Valerie Hernandez, also addressed the court, sharing the pain her family has endured.

“With Mary’s death we have all become victims of Ms. Long,” she said. “Everyone who knew (Mary) loved her and lost her.”

“My family and I have been given a life sentence to mourn our dear Mary. The preservation of life means nothing to (Long), so she should not be so concerned with where she spends the rest of hers. It is the hope of my family…that be in a prison cell,” Hernandez said.

Sobbing uncontrollably, Long tried to offer an apology.

“I wish there was something I could do to take the pain away,” Long said. “If this accident had to happen, I wish I could change places with Mary. That should be me. Not her.”

Prosecutors had argued for a sentence of 24 years in prison.

“This was not an accident, but rather the result of a conscious decision to drink and drive,” said District Attorney Don Quick. “Because of that decision an amazing young woman is dead and others lives are shattered.”

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