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Driver pleads guilty and is sentenced in Bernstein hit-and-run

Published October 24, 2021
The driver tells the court he takes responsibility. Bernstein says punishment doesn't fit the crime.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The driver who struck industry communications professional Andrew Bernstein in 2019 pleaded guilty to reduced charges on Friday and was sentenced to two years in prison. 

Stephen Grattan, 49, told the court he took "full responsibility" for the action and apologized to Bernstein, who was in the courtroom for the arraignment and sentencing. 

Bernstein suffered multiple serious injuries after being struck by a van outside Boulder while cycling home from a velodrome session. He still wears a full leg brace on his left leg, which is paralyzed from the knee down. He is required to use catheters and have multiple physical therapy sessions weekly. He said that while the results of his injuries are lifelong for him, Grattan will be released from prison in two years or less — and at some point will likely be driving again.

"The punishment doesn't fit the crime," he told BRAIN after the sentencing. He noted that while Grattan said he took responsibility, he had fled the scene while Bernstein was in a ditch, and, although his van was identified soon after the incident, Grattan told investigators he was not driving it when it happened. It took a year and a half before investigators pieced together enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant for Grattan.

Grattan had initially been charged with leaving the scene of a crash and reckless driving. He pleaded guilty to attempting to leave the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury. He was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of probation following his release.

In a statement to the court, Bernstein said, "I do feel that the punishment agreed to today is warranted and appropriate, but it is also not adequate to help me, while also doing little to prevent him from inflicting further harm on others. ... I can only hope that incarceration helps him become a better driver and a better person."Bernstein spoke with the media after the sentencing Friday.

In his statement, Bernstein noted that because Grattan fled the scene, investigators will never know if he had been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

District Judge Norma A. Sierra echoed Bernstein's comments after she sentenced Grattan. 

"I believe everyone acknowledges that given the issues that are involved in the case, the sentence that is imposed falls short of the losses experienced by Mr. Bernstein who, even long after Mr. Grattan has completed parole, will continue to experience consequences of this incident," Sierra said.

Sierra noted that Grattan never explained the "callousness of knowing that there could have been — that there was — involvement in having hit another individual and driving away. I can understand the panic, because that happens on occasion. But then not responding to it in the subsequent days ... I appreciate the fact that you are entering into this plea and I agree that it does take responsibility for your actions. We will never know whether, but for the investigative work of law enforcement, whether that (taking responsibility) would have occurred on your part," she said. 

Grattan is led away after his sentencing. Matthew Jonas/Pool/Boulder Daily Camera

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