BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- The man found guilty of running over and killing a Colorado State Patrol trooper during a high-speed chase has been sentenced to life in prison plus 342 years.
Gebers September conviction already carried a mandatory life sentence without parole, but Tuesday’s sentencing hearing allowed his family and friends to discuss how the loss had affected them.
Ahead of Judge Ingrid S. Bakke delivering Tuesday’s sentence, the court heard from several people including CSP’s Lieutenant Colonel Mark Savage, Trooper Clinton Rushing and his wife Gayle, Trooper Thyfault’s uncle, grandmother and mother.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Savage talked about a list of goals Thyfault had written. He read, “Saving a life before I die,” as one of the goals Thyfault had for himself. Savage added, “Had he graduated in September, he would’ve met that goal time and time again.”
Gayle Rushing, wife of Trooper Clinton Rushing, read a list of wishes she had -- mostly wishing the crash never happened. In the end, she looked at Gebers and said, “I wish you would’ve pulled over.”
Carole Adler, Trooper Thyfault’s mother, was the last to address the court. She spoke about her son’s aspirations and dreams of working in law enforcement. She said Taylor had always expressed interest in protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves. As she reflected on how much she missed her son, she discussed all the personal moments her son would now miss.
For the very first time in court, 28-year-old Gebers apologized to Thyfault’s family. Gebers said, “I wish I could take it back. I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I didn’t mean to kill anybody. This was an accident.”
Gebers went on to apologize to his own family as well.
Christopher Lee Gebers was convicted in September of first-degree murder with extreme indifference for the death of 21-year-old trooper Taylor Thyfault.
Gebers was arrested following the May 2015 chase that also injured CSP Sgt. Clinton Rushing, 37, as he and Thyfault deployed stop sticks on Highway 66 northwest of Longmont.
The two had been working an earlier two-vehicle crash as the chase approached their location. Thyfault died when he was struck by Gebers' speeding car. Rushing was hospitalized with critical injuries.
Thyfault pushed a tow truck driver out of the way before his was hit, according to witnesses. The impact threw Thyfault about 15 feet into a field. He died at the scene. The tow truck driver was not hurt.
Thyfault was a veteran U.S. Army soldier and a 2012 graduate of Windsor High School.
Thyfault was a cadet with the Colorado State Patrol. During his funeral, he was promoted to the rank of trooper as colleagues recalled him as honorable and selfless leader.
Gebers argued that his accelerator got stuck. But state patrol radio traffic reveals the trooper chasing Gebers reported they were traveling at varying speeds – from 100 mph, to 102 mph and down to 50 mph.
During sentencing Tuesday, the judge told Rushing, "We are fortunate to have you."
The judge also tried to comfort Thyfault's mother, saying, "I'm sure that the other people who were at that accident were grateful your son was there."
The judge sentenced Gebers to life in prison for the death of Thyfault. Gebers was sentenced to 342 years for hitting Rushing and on other charges.