An 18-year-old Vienna man who had three previous convictions for reckless driving has been found guilty on a fourth such charge and fined $50 for his role in an automobile accident that killed a passenger in his car.
The sentence, handed down last week by a substitute judge in Fairfax County General District Court to Michael C. Evans, of 2007 Gunnell Farm Dr., has angered both the prosecutors and the dead man's parents.
Frank Pirnat, 46, the father of Kenneth Michael Pirnat, the 18-year-old victim, said yesterday that he was flabbergasted when he heard the sentence in court. "I was just in shock, I really was," he said. "I was in a daze.
"I just feel that, because of his past history, something should have been done to take this kid off the road a long time ago," said Pirnat, a maintenance supervisor for British Airways. "That's the kind of sentence you give someone the first time."
"Every traffic case where there is a fatality does not merit a jail sentence," Assistant Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said in an interview. "But when a court has the opportunity to inspect a record that reflects a record, such as in this case, a jail sentence of some duration is warranted."
Judge James Wools, who heard the case, said yesterday that he would not comment on it. After imposing the fine, Wools suspended Evans' driver's license for 45 days. The man had pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
Neither Evans nor his defense attorney, Steven A. Merril, could be reached for comment.
Pirnat said Evans was taking his son, a senior at James Madison High School, home from a friend's house when the crash occurred about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22.
Police charged that Evans was exceeding "a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions" when the crash occurred at Beulah and Browns Chapel roads.
Robert Barnes, an acquaintance of the two teen-agers, was in a car ahead of Evans' 1983 Subaru before the crash, Morrogh said. He said Barnes said he stopped at a stop sign and that Evans' car passed him without stopping.
Barnes said both cars stopped at the next stop sign before turning onto Beulah Road, Morrogh said. "Barnes testified that he never lost sight of Evans and that he Evans was speeding at an estimated 60 mph," Morrogh said. He said the speed limit on the curving road is about 20 to 25 mph.
Then, Morrogh said, Barnes saw Evans' car approach a bridge, which had a "slow" sign in front of it, and saw the rear wheels leave the highway and the car slide off the road. It plowed into a utility pole, Morrogh said.
Before the sentencing, Morrogh said he asked the judge if he was aware that this was Evans' fourth reckless driving conviction. He said Wools said the first three driving offenses were "juvenile convictions."
Frank Pirnat said that when the judge became aware of Evans' prior convictions, "I felt sure there would be a sentence that would be appropriate."
Pirnat said his son, who lived at 1658 Lozano Dr. in Vienna with his mother, played the viola and had planned to attend the Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music in Winchester this fall.