Colorado Boy, 8, Awarded $370K Over Drunk-Driving Crash That Killed His Mom

PHOTO: Grace Cruthers and her son Damon Marquand are seen together before her fatal car crash in Denver in this undated file photo.
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An 8-year-old boy in Colorado has won about $370,000 in damages after suing an insurance company over the drunk driver who killed his mother in a car crash.

A jury in Douglas County Court reached a verdict Friday in the civil suit in which the boy, Damon Marquand, was the lead plaintiff.

The suit stemmed from a crash in August 2009 in which Dominick Wilmer, then 26, was speeding at 110 mph at 2 a.m. when he lost control of the car.

Wilmer survived with minor injuries, but Damon's mother, Grace Cruthers, 29, and Jonathan Richardson, 26, both passengers, were killed.

Wilmer was convicted of two counts of vehicular homicide and sentenced to 13 years in prison, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

The jury awarded $350,000 plus costs -- nearly three times as much as American Family Insurance had offered as a settlement prior to trial, according to lawyer Ethan McQuinn, whose firm represented Damon.

"This has always been about an 8-year-old who lost his mother through no fault of his own," said McQuinn. "Nothing can replace his mother's love, but we're thankful he's a resilient kid."

He said Damon's grandfather, Dave Cruthers, who has custody of the boy, was "emotionally exhausted" after the verdict and was not immediately available for comment. But earlier this week Cruthers told KMGH News in Denver, an ABC affiliate, that he just wanted Damon to get what he deserves.

"I don't how you put a price on anything like this," Cruthers told KMGH. "I just want him taken care of in his later years."

Wilmer has expressed his remorse on a MySpace page. A friend wrote there: "Dom is currently serving time for a very tragic accident that took the lives of two wonderful people, he is really trying to turn his life around. He says to tell all God bless, and please be smart and don't make any of the stupid decisions he did, and get yourself where he is."

A spokesman for American Family Insurance, Steve Witmer, said before the verdict that the company tried to settle to avoid a jury trial.

"There was an offer made, and an offer was rejected," he said.

Witmer said Wilmer was house-sitting for the insured person, Joshua Hill.

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