RUSTBURG — An Evington man was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail for driving while intoxicated when his truck crashed two years ago, killing his son.
John Fred Lambert Jr., 61, was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter from the crash, which happened March 18, 2019. His son, 38-year-old John Scott Lambert, was a passenger in the truck and died at the scene.
The elder Lambert was driving the truck east on Lynbrook Road that evening when it ran off the right side of the road down an embankment and struck a tree a little ways east of Lawyers Road, according to evidence in the case and information from Virginia State Police at the time.
Lambert was flown to Roanoke Memorial Hospital with injuries, and his son was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene, VSP said.
Evidence in his case was heard at an August trial in Campbell Circuit Court, with attorneys filing further arguments remotely before judgment and sentencing were pronounced Tuesday.
Lambert claimed in testimony his son jerked the wheel of the truck while he was driving following an argument the two had while on the road, according to court documents.
Prosecutor Eric Harrison argued the tire marks at the scene — “rolling” smoothly away from the curve and not dug into the ground at an abrupt angle — didn’t suggest a “violent or sudden event” that Lambert described.
Tests put Lambert’s blood alcohol level at anywhere from .18 to .21 at the time of the crash, above the .08 legal limit, court documents state, and he initially claimed to law enforcement a week after the crash he had taken a few sips of vodka from a passer-by after the crash, who then left with the bottle.
Considering Lambert’s testimony and the attorneys’ arguments, Judge John Cook found Lambert not guilty of involuntary manslaughter but guilty of driving while intoxicated. Since Lambert was convicted of another DUI in 2014, his six-month jail sentence includes a mandatory minimum of 10 days.
Curtis Thornhill, Lambert’s attorney, asked the judge to consider his client’s health complications and the psychological impact of his son’s death in the crash when asking for the sentence to be served on weekends.
Cook mentioned recent climbing rates of COVID-19 cases in allowing Lambert a three-month period before reporting to serve his sentence. He’ll have his license suspended for three years and will need to pay a $2,500 fine.