Coach pleads no contest to hit-and-run charge

Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2000

High school teacher and coach Guy Thibodeau pleaded no contest Monday afternoon to a misdemeanor charge of leaving an accident scene.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Thibodeau, 51, won't spend time in jail. His daughter, then 14, who was driving the pickup that rear-ended a car on Sept. 15 on Egan Drive, won't be charged in the incident.

Magistrate John Sivertsen Jr. sentenced Guy Thibodeau in Juneau District Court to 90 days in jail with all suspended, fined him $250 with all suspended, required 80 hours of community work service and placed him on probation for a year.

Thibodeau faced up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Juneau schools Superintendent Gary Bader said today his first reaction is the conviction doesn't raise any questions about Thibodeau's suitability to teach or coach.

"It's certainly not an insignificant case," Sivertsen said of the crash that knocked one vehicle about 75 feet forward and sent two people to the hospital.

After the Thibodeau pickup struck a car driven by Jeffrey Haley, then 16, Thibodeau's daughter pulled over to the side of the road and Guy Thibodeau drove away, Assistant District Attorney David Brower said. The Thibodeau vehicle also had another young passenger. Guy Thibodeau phoned police within a half-hour to report the incident.

Michelle Haley, then 14 and a passenger in the Haley car, was taken by ambulance to Bartlett Regional Hospital with severe neck pain and numbness in her face, her mother, Penny Haley, told Sivertsen. Jeffrey Haley, who had pain in the arms and neck, later went to the hospital, she said.

The Haleys' Subaru had about $5,000 damage and the Thibodeaus' Toyota had $4,000 to $5,000 damage, police estimated.

The damage was apparent and "there was no stopping to see if anybody was hurt," Brower said. "This was a terrible example to set for a child."

Brower, saying the impact from the crash was sufficient to believe there were injuries, asked Sivertsen to sentence Guy Thibodeau to 120 days in jail and suspend the sentence and require 80 hours of community work service.

Thibodeau's attorney, Louis Menendez, described the crash as a fender-bender. Menendez said Brower's recommendations were excessive.

One hundred and twenty days of jail time "is an extreme amount of time, even suspended, for someone like Mr. Thibodeau," Menendez said.

Thibodeau, who does not have a prior criminal conviction, is well-loved in the community in which he has performed thousands of hours of service, Menendez said.

Menendez said Thibodeau's daughter was hysterical after the accident.

"He wanted to get his daughter away from something that was causing her harm, pain and suffering," Menendez said.

Thibodeau told the magistrate he was thankful "that nobody got seriously injured and I was able to get the kids out of there without serious injuries when there was a lot of traffic going by and a lot of confusion."

Jeffrey Haley, who spoke in court after hearing Menendez describe Thibodeau, said, "I don't think it's fair that just because of a person's history or because of his popularity he should be treated differently than someone else."

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