Man sentenced in wreck that killed restaurant owner
CHRISTIANSBURG – Over a year removed from a DUI accident that killed the 63-year-old owner of Blacksburg’s China Inn, his family expressed anger and hurt in court, while the driver was remorseful.
Donald Calvin Overton, 58, of Giles County, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Duane Mink on a felony aggravated manslaughter charge to 15 years in the state penitentiary, eligible for supervised probation after serving five years. He was also sentenced to an additional 12 months in jail, with 6 months suspended for a DUI charge from the accident.
On Dec. 6, 2010, Tung Sheng Chang of Blacksburg was turning his 2001 Nissan sedan from Red Maple Drive onto North Main Street at about 5:30 p.m. when his vehicle was struck by a 1996 Nissan pickup driven by Overton.
Chang was pronounced dead after being taken to an area hospital. Overton was charged with DUI and felony aggravated manslaughter and had been out on bond for a year.
It was Overton’s third DUI charge. Prosecutor Erin Little pushed for the maximum 20 years sentence, saying that Overton had numerous opportunities to get sober and chose not to, and put many drivers in danger the day of the crash.
Overton said Wednesday that on the day of the crash, he went to Blacksburg’s Big Al’s Grille & Sportsbar for lunch and mixed drinks. According to Overton, a contractor, he drank in preparation for a meeting to obtain building materials at Home Depot following his lunch.
“I kind of drank so I wouldn’t feel intimidated negotiating with him I guess,” Overton said.
Following the meeting at Home Depot, Overton went back to the bar, where he had more drinks. While the amount of drinks came in question, Overton admitted to having at least seven drinks.
Overton had a .29 blood-alcohol-content, over three times the legal limit, during the accident.
Experts for the defense testified that the crash took place on a day in which there was snow on the ground and at a time and location with low visibility.
Overton took full responsibility for the accident, and became emotional on the stand as he turned and faced the Chang family to issue an apology.
“I’m sorry for the pain and anguish I put you through,” Overton said, fighting tears.
Members of the Chang family seated some ten feet from Overton broke down in tears during the apology.
Tommy Chang, son of the victim, expressed the pain the family is still going through from actions he called “inexcusable” and “reckless.”
A father, husband and brother was lost to an avoidable accident, and the family is still picking up the pieces, Chang said. He recounted how his father moved to the country 35 years ago for a better quality of life, starting out as a dishwasher and eventually owning a business. Chang’s father somehow managed to put he and his brother through college at New York and Columbia Universities, never complaining about the numerous hours he worked, he said.
Overton’s attorney, Jimmy Turk, said there is no happy ending in such a situation.
“It’s another situation in which alcohol has damaged two people’s families,” Turk said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8621