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Published: Wednesday, 11/28/2007

Michigan man gets 4 years for fatal accident

Champagne Champagne

A Milan, Mich., man convicted of the March 30 drunken driving crash that killed a man and injured a Lucas County sheriff s deputy was sentenced to four years in prison this morning.

Joseph Champagne, 42, pleaded no contest Nov. 2 of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault. Judge James Jensen acknowledged his lack of criminal record and the fact that he is a community volunteer and that he raised his teenaged son alone but admonished his decision to drive that night.

Champagne s blood-alcohol level was 0.199 percent that night, his attorney Jon Richardson said. The legal limit for a motorist in Ohio is 0.08 percent.

Keith Gunn, 51, was killed and Deputy Lee Feeny was injured in the crash. The two men were trying to push a disabled car out of a private driveway along Salisbury Road, east of Crissey Road.

Champagne was driving west on Salisbury Road about 2:45 a.m. when his vehicle went left of center and hit the deputy s eastbound cruiser head on. The impact pushed the cruiser into Mr. Gunn and the deputy.

Mr. Gunn s family was in the courtroom yesterday. His sister, Stacey Dunbar, said that the sentence will not fill the void felt by Mr. Gunn s absence.

Judge Jensen sentenced Champagne to three years in prison for the vehicular homicide charge and one year in prison for the vehicular assault charge. The terms were to be served consecutively.

The maximum sentence for the two charges is 13 years in prison.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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