Soldier will serve no more than 14 months for drunken driving crash that killed fellow GI
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A Landstuhl-based soldier was sentenced Thursday to two years of confinement, a bad conduct discharge and reduction to E-1 for his role in a September 2006 drunken driving crash that killed a fellow soldier.
Under the terms of his pretrial agreement, Spc. Dedrick Nash will serve no more than 14 months’ confinement.
Nash, who was driving the vehicle in the early hours of Sept. 30, 2006, began Thursday’s court-martial by pleading guilty to negligent homicide, drunken operation of a motor vehicle and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.
Nash, who worked in radiology at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, faced a maximum of three years’ confinement, a dishonorable discharge, reduction to the lowest rank and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Spc. Wubshet Yilma, who was assigned to Landstuhl and was Nash’s passenger that night, died as a result of the crash.
Prosecuting attorney Capt. Jocelyn Stewart asked military judge Lt. Col. Edward J. O’Brien to give Nash 18 months’ confinement and a bad conduct discharge.
“Specialist Yilma did not die in the war against terror,” she said. “He died because of a war the Army is losing in its own backyard — the war against drunk driving.”
Ron Nash, an Army retiree of 20 years, asked that his son be allowed to stay in the Army.
“He made a bad choice, but a bad choice does not measure the character of a man,” Ron Nash said.
Late on Sept. 29, Nash and Yilma drove to a club in Spangdahlem, Germany. Around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 30, the two took shots of tequila in the car before entering the club. They left the club around 4 a.m.
Nash testified that he drove the wrong way on the autobahn before getting on the right direction. The road was wet, and conditions were dark and foggy. While heading toward Landstuhl on Autobahn 62 near Freisen, Germany, Nash passed a driver and lost control of the vehicle, slamming into a brick wall. Yilma died from injuries suffered in the single-vehicle crash.
“I was driving under the influence of alcohol when I swerved off the road and hit the wall,” Nash said.
Yilma leaves behind a mother, brothers, sisters and a girlfriend who is pregnant with his child. Pfc. Veronica Dankwa-Smith is set to give birth to Yilma’s daughter in late April.
“She’s going to ask, ‘Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy?,’” Dankwa-Smith said. “I’m going to have to take her to a cemetery and say, ‘Daddy’s in heaven, watching over you.’”