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Drunken driver who injured Lake Geneva family sentenced

(Published Oct. 10, 2007, 3:30 p.m.)

Mark L. Spangler had seven prior drunk driving convictions, a court order not to drive a vehicle without a license and he still managed to buy a Jeep Cherokee last year.

The day after he did, he drove drunk again, this time slamming into a minivan carrying a family from Lake Geneva, severely injuring three of the four passengers.

Spangler, last week Friday, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by Dane County Judge Steven Ebert.

"As sad a comment as it is, the only way to protect society is to prevent you from drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of an automobile," Ebert said in court, according to the Associated Press.

Spangler, 39, had pleaded no contest to three counts of causing great bodily harm by hit-and-run and three counts of causing injury by drunk driving.

The Oct. 22, 2006, accident left Scott Hodkiewicz, 39, with massive internal injuries and broken bones, and his wife, Mona, with spinal fractures, according to the AP. His 10-year-old daughter, Alexa, was also injured. Scott and Mona Hodkiewicz are both veterinarians in Lake Geneva.

Insurance covered the nearly $1 million in medical bills, but the long hospital stays by both made it difficult to keep open their practice, according to the AP. Scott was out of work for nearly six months and Mona missed about two months, according to the AP.

"Only you have the ability to stop Mark Spangler from killing someone," Scott told the judge before the sentence was issued, according to the AP. "If you let him out, somebody's going to get killed or somebody's going to get maimed."

The sentence will start when Spangler finishes a seven-year sentence issued after his probation was revoked for his fifth, sixth and seventh offenses.

Spangler said he was remorseful for what happened. His mother said he turned to alcohol after being sexually abused by a relative as a child. He started drinking at age 16, his mother said, according to the AP.

Scott Hodkiewizc was pleased with the sentence.

"If you want to sit at home and drink your problems away, go ahead," he told an AP reporter. "But if you get on the highway, you're putting everybody else at risk."

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