Judge sentences man to 27 months behind bars after fatal I-5 crash

Judge sentences man to 27 months behind bars after fatal I-5 crash
Ronald Witt

PORTLAND, Ore. – In what was supposed to be a change of plea hearing, the judge instead threw the book at a man Thursday accused of killing another driver on Interstate 5 this summer.

The judge took such a harsh approach toward Ronald Witt, 56, because when he showed up for court he smelled like he'd been drinking. While he denied drinking, Witt admitted he'd violated probation by drinking in the past.

Witt was arrested after the crash that killed 52-year-old Thomas Swift of Vancouver, Wash.

In court, the judge acknowledged that Witt had violated probation and ordered him to be taken into custody. At same time the judge sentenced Witt to 27 months behind bars.

That crash closed the southbound lanes of I-5 near the Capitol Highway exit for hours Aug. 9.

Witt was driving without a license at the time of the crash.

According to police, Witt was driving a Ford-150 pickup when he rear-ended a Chevrolet coupe, which in turn smashed into the back of an Audi.

Witt has such a bad driving record with DUII's and driving while suspended or revoked the state has labeled him a habitual offender.

Witt was arrested for DUI in 1994 and 2005. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test in 2008.

He's had his license suspended or revoked seven times.