Prosecutors say a Chesterfield man could face seven years in prison for causing the death of Chesterfield teacher Janet Esrock, when he drove drunk into her car on Wildhorse Creek Road.
Patrick J. McCormick, 53, pleaded guilty Friday morning to first-degree involuntary manslaughter involving a DWI and second-degree assault, in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
McCormick told the court he was being treated for depression, and no longer worked. He was a facilities director at Saint Louis University Medical Center.
McCormick was legally drunk when he drove his car head-on into another on Wildhorse Creek Road August 26, fatally injuring 50-year-old Janet Esrock, a teacher, and seriously injuring her teenage son, Jon Esrock.
Janet Esrock died two weeks later on September 11, never having regained consciousness. A family friend said he learned there had been no evidence of activity during a brain scan.
About 10 of Esrock’s family and friends gathered in the courtroom to hear the guilty plea by McCormick, and huddled with Assistant Prosecutor Alan Key afterward.
Chuck Esrock, Janet’s husband, declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.
McCormick answered questions from Judge Thomas Prebil about his understanding of what was taking place. McCormick told the court he is no longer employed and has been taking medication to treat depression.
Key said the state is recommending a seven-year prison sentence. Prebil will hand down the decision August 17.
“He’s going to prison, and he knows it,” Key said after the hearing. “The only question is will it be for five years or the seven. My gut feeling is he’ll get five to six years on the class B felony (the manslaughter charge) and a suspended sentence for the class C charge (the assault).”
During the hearing, Key told the court that McCormick’s blood-alcohol content tested at 0.14 percent at 12:30 a.m. and 0.12 percent at 1:30 a.m.
“Your blood-alcohol content drops about .02 percent every hour, so he was probably at .16 during the accident,” Key said afterward.
If that is accurate, McCormick’s blood-alcohol level was about twice the legal limit. When asked about McCormick's level of intoxication, Key said some people can outwardly appear to be fine at .16 blood-alcohol content.
“But when you get behind the wheel of a several ton vehicle, your impairment is magnified,” he said.
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