The intoxicated driver who caused a 2012 Northway crash that killed two Shenendehowa High School students will remain in prison for at least two more years, a state parole board has ruled.
Dennis Drue, now 28, is serving 5 to 15 years in state prison on aggravated vehicular homicide and other convictions. He went before the parole board for the first time last week, and officials announced Monday he was denied release.
Family members of the victims got the news in a phone call from state officials just before 8 a.m. on Monday, Chris Stewart's father, Michael Stewart, said. Chris Stewart died in the crash, along with Deanna Rivers.
"It probably took me 10 seconds to get over my initial emotion before I said anything," Michael Stewart said. "We're definitely very satisfied."
Drue admitted he was speeding, driving recklessly and was high on marijuana when he rear-ended a Ford Explorer being driven by Stewart on the Northway on Dec. 1, 2012, causing the vehicle to roll over several times. Stewart's vehicle was driving below the speed limit and in the right lane at the time of the collision.
Stewart's two other passengers, Shenendehowa classmate Matt Hardy and Shaker High School student Bailey Wind, both survived.
Drue pleaded guilty in 2013 to all 58 counts against him, most felonies, in exchange for a sentence from the then-Judge Jerry J. Scarano of 5 to 15 years. The deal was made directly with the judge.
The parole decision came after members of the parole board heard from family members a month earlier. They brought pictures and other information about the crash. They also brought a petition the parents posted to Change.org in March that garnered more than 11,000 signatures in support of their cause.
Drue's next opportunity for release will be in 2020. His conditional release date, the date he would be released absent other factors, is November 2023. His maximum release date is November 2028.
"We will be here at this time two years from now dreading that call once again, but you can be sure, 30 days prior to the hearing, we'll be back."