Updated September 29, 2022 - 4:22 pm
A woman who ran over a Southwest Gas employee while she was impaired was sentenced Thursday to spend at least eight to 20 years in prison.
“I hold no hardship toward the defendant,” Riley McGowan said during the sentencing of Danielle Kove. “God is always about forgiveness, and I forgive her. With that, she does take full responsibility, and I place full blame on her.”
Kove was sentenced on one count of driving under the influence resulting in substantial bodily harm. Prosecutors said she ran over McGowan on July 13 when she drove off the U.S. Highway 95 on-ramp at Casino Center Boulevard.
McGowan, 23, was going about his normal rounds checking valves for Southwest Gas when he was struck. After 10 surgeries and six weeks at University Medical Center, he was amputated above his right knee and below his left knee.
District Judge Christy Craig cited Kove’s three prior DUI charges since 2000 while imposing the sentence. Craig warned that if Kove was charged with another DUI resulting in injury, she could face life in prison.
“I appreciate your remorse, and I appreciate the fact that you recognize the kind of damage that you’ve done,” Craig said. “This is a reminder of the danger that they face as just part of their work. You are also right that you deserve to be here. You deserve to be punished for the pain and damage that you caused to Mr. McGowan.”
McGowan’s mother, Carmen McGowan, sobbed throughout the 23-minute hearing. McGowan’s fiancée, Alexis Vega, and Riley McGowan’s father and aunt tried to console the grieving woman.
“This was an accident, and it should never have happened,” Kove said, sobbing through her words before she was sentenced. “I want to make it right. I deserve to be here. If this happened to my son I would do exactly what his mother is doing.”
Carmen McGowan told the court that no sentencing would equate what had happened to her son.
“How would she feel if her child were to lose their legs and never be able to walk again?” Carmen McGowan said in her statement. “If she gets 20 years and gets out on good behavior, she will walk out on her own two feet, and my son never will.”
Robert McGowan, Riley’s father, held back tears while he called Kove a cancer that needed to be removed from society by being placed in prison.
“If he has children, he’s never going to teach his children how to slide into second base as I taught him in Little League all these years ago,” Robert McGowan said. “There’s so many things that she’s taken from him. I encourage you to give her the maximum and take as much from her as you can.”
Riley McGowan is awaiting another surgery to replace the ligaments in his left knee before his family can look into purchasing prosthetics. Southwest Gas is holding his job as an engineering tech until he returns.
“I’m very happy she got the maximum sentence,” Riley McGowan said after court. “I appreciate the support from family and all my coworkers and everything. They are my second family. I’m relieved.”