MASON CITY — The sister of a Hanlontown motorcyclist killed by a drunk driver offered her family’s forgiveness during the defendant’s sentencing hearing Monday morning.
James Edward Bollinger, 51, was given the mandatory sentence of up to 25 years in prison on a charge of homicide by vehicle, a Class B felony, for striking and killing Timothy Wurtzel on Highway 122 West in Mason City on Aug. 13, 2010.
Bollinger was sentenced by Judge James Drew in Cerro Gordo County District Court.
Bollinger admitted being intoxicated on the night of the accident.
“This is what my brother would have done and you can’t hate forever,” said Wurtzel’s sister Cindy Wisher of Hanlontown following the sentencing.
“I am glad I had the 20 months to think it through and not overreact. We’re all saying it could have been any of us. He made an honest mistake.”
Members of Wurtzel’s family and friends cried quietly during the hearing. One friend carried a collage of photographs of Wurtzel.
Wisher said she hopes that now her younger brother can rest in peace.
“I believe in my heart that Tim would forgive you,” she told the court during a victim impact statement.
Bollinger said not a day goes by where he hasn’t thought about what he did that night.
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“I am so very sorry for the choices I’ve made which caused the death of Mr. Wurtzel. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and make it all go away but I can’t,” Bollinger said.
He will be taken to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale for processing and then sent to a state prison to serve his sentence.
Bollinger was most recently working as a test engineer at a Caterpillar plant in Illinois. He was living in Naperville, Ill., prior to a plea change hearing in March when he was taken into custody.
“He seemed like a very sincere person,” Wisher said. “And you have to move on. It’s not that I’ll ever forget it. I live it daily.”
Judge Drew ordered Bollinger’s driver’s license be suspended for six years.
He was also ordered to pay $157,357 in restitution to Wurtzel’s family as well as $780 in court-appointed attorney fees and $2,398 in expenses for expert witnesses.
Wurtzel died without a will or any dependents. The family is asking that the restitution be donated to Francis Lauer Youth Center in Mason City.
“He was best of the best,” Wisher said. “He had a heart of gold. He would do anything for anyone. He had the biggest smile. He was an unbelievable person.”