Littleton woman who struck, killed 13-year-old boy riding his bike to school sentenced to 2 years probation

Beth Ann Hutchinson, 39, of Littleton, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of careless driving resulting in death for the crash that killed 13-year-old Liam Dean Stewart on Oct. 17, 2023.
Posted: 4:44 PM, Apr 02, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-02 23:37:11-04
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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — A woman charged with careless driving after fatally striking a 13-year-old boy on his way to school last year was sentenced to two years of probation and a $1,000 fine by an Arapahoe County judge Tuesday.

Beth Ann Hutchinson, 39, of Littleton, pleaded guilty in February to the misdemeanor charge of careless driving resulting in death for the crash that killed 13-year-old Liam Dean Stewart. The boy was riding his bike the morning of Oct. 17, 2023, when he was struck by Hutchinson at a roundabout at S. Elati St. and S. Arapahoe Dr., just south of Euclid Middle School.

"I can’t say anything at this point to make anyone feel better today," said Judge Amy Touart, after hearing emotional testimony from the Stewart family and Hutchinson herself. "The loss that this family has endured has been unbearable."

In court Tuesday, Josh Stewart, Liam's father, requested the court hand down a harsher sentence in the case: A total of 14 days in jail for Hutchinson — one day for each year the boy was alive, so Hutchinson could "contemplate what she did."

"What happened to my son was not an accident. What happened to him was not a mistake. It was based on choices, bad choices. It was a choice to treat a vehicle like a sports car, not a dangerous weapon," Stewart said through tears before the sentencing. "It was a choice to ignore the school zone — she knew it was a school zone — there was no denying she knew, because she was rushing to drop off her own kid at that school that day."

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Explaining how "horrifically out of balance the scales of justice are" in this case, Stewart told the court that 14 days away in a jail cell, "will not lose a person their job. It will not break their family."

Judge Touart, however, said that while she thought there was validity in what Liam's father told the court, she had to weigh that against Hutchinson's traffic history and criminal record.

"There is nothing in her history to indicate that this is a regular type of driving behavior for her," Judge Touart said, adding she also had to look at whether Hutchinson was likely to commit a similar crime in the future. "Based on her history, I don’t believe she is... Every time Ms. Hutchison has appeared before me, she comes off as unbelievably remorseful."

As part of her sentencing, the judge also ordered Hutchinson to complete 150 hours of community service as a crossing guard at Euclid Middle School, with the possibility of completing those hours at another school if her presence at Euclid retraumatizes the community. Hutchinson must also complete a Level 1 driving class, pay restitution to the Stewart family, and cannot drive without a valid driver's license or vehicle insurance.

"If there’s any violation of the terms, the court will not hesitate to put you in jail," Judge Touart warned Hutchinson, letting her know that failure to comply with any of the terms as set by the court will land her in Arapahoe County Jail for one year.

"We don’t want revenge... All we really want is Liam back"

Remembering Liam as someone who already had a plan for his life — the boy hoped to attend the School of Mines and become an Eagle Scout — the boy's father said it was painful to talk about the things he's since learned after his son's death, explaining how he had discovered that the 13-year-old boy would sit with new kids who had just arrived to the school to make them feel less lonely.

He also talked about how proud the whole family was for being a family of five.

"All five of us were so proud of it," Stewart reminisced, looking back at how challenging it was to book a table a restaurant, rent a car, or find a room that would fit the whole family while on vacation.

But one week after Liam's 13th birthday, "we became a family of four, something we are reminded of" every single day, he said.

"I struggle with how to explain the meaning of justice," Stewart told the court. "We don’t want money. We don’t want revenge. We don’t want to destroy another family. All we really want is Liam back," he said as he fought back tears.

Describing the last six months as a "lifetime of pain," Stewart said the family has marked Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and just recently, Easter, without Liam while Hutchinson "can continue to hug her kids every day."

"She won't know what it feels like for a family of five, that now asks for a table for four," the man said. "Nothing will bring Liam back. Nothing with lessen the pain we carry. Nothing will repair our family."

Hutchinson was also provided the opportunity to speak during court before her sentencing. The woman, who was "dry heaving and was very clearly very disturbed to what she had done," according to the judge, apologized to the Stewart family for her actions that day.

"What happened cannot be made right, and what was lost cannot be restored," Hutchinson said through tears as she read her own statement before the court. "I would do anything to turn back the clock and undo the pain I've caused. I know my words will never ease the pain," she added. "Please know that I'm sorry."

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A crash report released days after the incident showed the "most apparent human contributing factor" for Hutchinson the day of the deadly crash was the morning sunrise, which caused a glare, and the fact that she looked and did not see Liam. The boy, who was heading north in a marked bike lane at the roundabout, was wearing a helmet, which was broken in the crash, and was not wearing headphones, according to the report.

Police also noted they believed the boy looked and did not see the car before the crash.

A coroner's report from the Arapahoe County Coroner showed Liam died of multiple blunt force injuries. Based on his injuries, the coroner said, the boy did not suffer at the time of his death.

Woman who killed 13-year-old boy riding his bike on his way to school sentenced

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