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Family wants maximum sentence for driver in deadly wrong-way DUI crash

Crash on I-295 killed 69-year-old military veteran in January 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a man killed in a wrong-way drunk driving crash is asking for a harsher punishment for the man behind the wheel.

Wally Beale, 69, an organ transplant specialist and military veteran, was killed on I-95 near I-295 in South Jacksonville last year.

Beale was driving home from work around 4 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2016. His daughter said he had been in Ocala the evening before.

State troopers said 29-year-old William Uhrmann was driving the wrong way on the interstate, under the influence, when he hit Beale’s car.

Uhrmann pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter earlier this month. Because it was a plea agreement, Uhrmann faces five to 10 years in prison, instead of a maximum of 15. He's set to be sentenced next Friday.

But Beale’s family said that's not enough.

“He was my rock. He was very special to a lot of people,” Beale's daughter, Ashley Galbraith, said of her father. “I never ever in my wildest dreams ever thought that my dad would go out like that ever.”

Beale, a grandfather who served in the Navy in Vietnam and spent his life working with organ procurement, was rushed to UF Health Hospital in Springfield. He held on for four days in the hospital, but took a turn for the worst after the second day.

After doctors said he had no chance for recovery, Beale's family took him off life support.

Investigators waited on toxicology results before issuing a warrant for Uhrmann's arrest months after the crash.
Troopers said Uhrmann’s blood alcohol level was .117, and he had marijuana in his system.

Uhrmann's sentence is up to Judge Waddell Wallace, who is reviewing the facts and evidence in the case. He’ll also hear from both families.

Galbraith said five to 10 years is not enough time.

“You took someone's life by the carelessness of your actions, and it's just not enough. It really isn't,” she said.
Beale’s family hopes to get lawmakers to change the rules, hoping harsher penalties will get people to think before they drink and drive.

“Everybody is so concerned about me, me, me. Think about other people and what could happen, the effect it can have on the family, both of our families,” Galbraith said.

For now, Galbraith's focus is getting through the next week until she can find out what will happen to the man who killed her father.

“We want 10 years, if that's the max that we can get at this point,” she said. “It's not what we want but we will accept that.”

News4Jax attempted to contact Uhrmann and his attorney through emails and phone calls, but so far we haven’t heard back from either.

Prosecutors said they have not made a recommendation of a sentence and will allow the judge to determine the proper sentence.


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