PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach man who nearly killed a Virginia Wesleyan University professor and her husband in a DUI crash last year on Northampton Boulevard will serve six years in prison.
Robert Thompson, who was 72 at the time of the crash, was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to two counts of DUI maiming-victim permanently impaired and one count of misdemeanor DUI 1st for the crash on Northampton Boulevard on Feb. 7, 2020. He faced a maximum of 11 years.
The crash almost killed VWU professor Kathy Jackson and seriously injured her husband, Joe, who were stopped at a red light at the time.
“I thought I was going to die that night,” said Kathy Jackson.
“I just thought that I was going to lose her,” added Joe Jackson. “It was very tough.”
Thompson was clocked going 70 mph in a 55 mph zone, after police had tried to pull him over, and his blood alcohol level was .21, more than two and a half times the legal limit.
“You don’t wake up in the morning and feel that this is going to happen,” Kathy Jackson added. “I remember saying this wasn’t part of the plan for today and just how quickly things happen.”
Kathy Jackson’s diaphragm was detached, causing her internal organs to push up into her chest, but she was saved by Virginia Beach emergency crews and doctors at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. Joe Jackson broke several bones in the crash.
Thompson told the court Monday that he had taken too much cold medicine. He told the Jacksons he was deeply sorry for his actions and he wishes he could take back all the Jacksons’ suffering.
“Even though he [plead]ed guilty, he is saying it’s cough syrup and he was trying to stop,” Kathy Jackson added. “He hit us at 60 mph directly. It doesn’t add up. I think I was more concerned with not how many years, but with how much rehabilitation he gets while he was in prison.”
Thompson was a prisoner of war in Vietnam had been arrested three times for DUI since 1990.
“He’s got a drinking problem,” Joe Jackson said. “He’s got a history of having of drinking problem, so he was trying to talk himself away from that guilt.”
The sentencing guidelines called for a range of one year to three years and four months. The judge went over the guidelines, telling Thompson this was a repeated pattern.
Thompson told 10 On Your Side back in February he could not explain how he struck the couple, and said he did not remember hitting them.
“I said that to the police officer. I’m very sorry, but that was an accident … I didn’t have no intent to crash into anybody.”