Driver pleads guilty to manslaughter<BR>Drunken motorist could serve up to 30 years for killing 4

Daniel Brackney will spend more than two decades in prison because of a plea agreement sought by relatives of four men he was charged with killing in a drunken-driving collision.

In Mohave County Superior Court on Friday, Brackney accepted a plea agreement that will result in 25 to 30 years in prison for the men's deaths.

His sentencing date is Jan.


Brackney, 23, of Kingman pleaded guilty to four counts of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of driving while under the extreme influence of alcohol.

He is liable for a fine of up to $302,500, which will likely be decided during or after sentencing.

Brackney was driving a pickup that rear-ended a 15-passenger car pool van along state Highway 68 in Golden Valley on Feb.


The van was heading to the Southern California Edison power plant in Laughlin, Nev.

The collision killed plant workers Eric Ruiz, Roy Latimer, John Walker and Dan Zasadni and injured Robert Mansfield and Russell Pewsey.

Brackney was driving in excess of 100 mph at the time of the collision, and his blood alcohol level was tested at 0.20 two hours after the collision, according to state Department of Public Safety investigators and the Mohave County Attorney's Office.

That is more than double the state's legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08.

Brackney and a passenger were heading east along Highway 68 when he stopped the pickup and then drove back onto the highway heading west, according to DPS reports.

"The state's plea offer was only made after several meetings with 20 or 30 of the victims' family members," prosecuting attorney Jace Zack said.

"The plea agreement was their decision."

Julie Ruiz, wife of Eric Ruiz, said, "We are hoping Judge Weiss gives Daniel Brackney the maximum years of the plea agreement, as he took the life of our beloved Eric as well as three other innocent men.

Somehow the community and the legal system need to be both aware and to take a strong hand against drunk drivers.

"Drinking and driving killed four innocent men and has forever changed our lives," Ruiz added.

"We hope this opens the eyes of others before they get into a vehicle after drinking.

No one should ever feel the emptiness we have in our hearts because of someone's selfishness.

We miss Eric each and every day, and our lives will never be the same without him."

Lee Latimer, the son of Roy Latimer, said, "We feel that justice was served by law, but it's not going to replace our father.

It doesn't change anything as to how we feel." Latimer thanked officers and prosecutors.

"Everyone who worked on this case did the best (job) money can buy," he said.

On Friday afternoon, Marie Zasadni, wife of Dan Zasadni, was short for words.

"I hardly know what to say," she said.

"I'm sorry for everyone involved.

I went through so much pain, I'm sort of keeping my distance from the situation."