Boy to Drunk Driver in Fatal DUI: "Zachary Chose a Beer Over My Dad"

Update: Last August, we told you about the arrest of Zachary Strnad in the death of cyclist Tom Flanagan.

As seen in our previous coverage, on view below, Strnad was suspected of drunk driving and reportedly had an open container in his vehicle at the time he struck Flanagan, who'd been cycling on Lookout Mountain Road.

Now, Strnad has been sentenced to ten years in the incident — the maximum sentence, according to the First Judicial District DA's Office, which prosecuted the case.

A possible reason for the punishment: A letter shared by Flanagan's seven-year-old son, Owen, which reads in part, "Zachary chose a beer over my dad."

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Owen after Tom's passing (it's exceeded a $100,000 goal) features a post from wife and mother Carrie Flanagan-Jantz expressing fear that Strnad would receive a wrist slap.

The post reads:
In August a drunk driver killed my husband, Tom. Tom was riding his bike and the drunk driver took a blind curve on the wrong side of the road, hit him head-on, and killed him.

One of the options for a Community Corrections sentence — which involves NO jail time AT ALL.

The Community Corrections Board is currently at 50-50. It's unbelievable and scary that someone can kill someone else and not serve time. Unreal.

If you are willing to send an e-mail against a Community Corrections sentence for the man who killed Tom, please do it now. Any indication that people care about this/are paying attention is helpful.
In an additional attempt to make sure Strnad didn't walk, Jantz-Flanagan released a statement at the time of sentencing that reads in part, "The courtroom is full today in the name of justice. However, tonight, I will be left alone to explain to a child how his father's death is supposedly compensated by a few years of incarceration for the man who killed him."

Owen also spoke — and he'd previously hand-written a letter to the judge and prosecutor in the case that his family shared with the Denver Post.

It begins: "My dad was the best dad for me. Zachary chose a beer over my dad. If he had to drink beer he should have had it at home not in a car."


Our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Tom Flanagan. Look below to see the letter, followed by a CBS4 report about the sentencing and our previous coverage.

Original post, 7:51 a.m. August 24: 
Tom Flanagan was an avid outdoorsman who loved cycling in Colorado.

But a fatal encounter with twenty-year-old Zachary Strnad, a suspected drunk driver, ended his life far too soon.

Strnad was arrested on suspicion of numerous charges, including felony homicide.

Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign is underway to assist Flanagan's wife and seven-year-old son, for whom Tom was the sole means of support.

The incident took place about 6:10 p.m. Friday, August 21, on Lookout Mountain Road.

According to Fox31, citing a Colorado State Patrol release, a 2004 Dodge Stratus with two people inside — Strnad and a 21-year-old passenger — passed over double yellow lines in order to pass two cars in the eastbound lanes of the roadway.

At that point, he crashed head on with Flanagan, 38, who was riding his bike.

Flanagan was subsequently rushed to St. Anthony's hospital, 9News notes.

But about two hours after his arrival at the facility, he succumbed to his injuries.

In the meantime, Strnad, an Aurora resident, was taken into custody on suspicion of felony homicide, reckless driving, driving under the influence and driving with an open container in his vehicle.

After Flanagan's death, a GoFundMe page was launched in his memory. Accompanying this photo of Flanagan with his beloved son, Owen.... an introduction that describes Tom and the situation. It reads:
On August 21, 2015 the world lost an amazing father, husband, and friend. Tom was doing one of the things he was most passionate about, road biking Lookout Mountain Road, when he was hit by a drunk driver. He leaves behind his wife, Carrie, and his 7 year old son, Owen.

Tom had an amazing zeal for life. He had unbounded love for his family, a true passion for the outdoors, and an unrivaled enthusiasm for any festive event that Colorado had to offer.

Tom was the sole provider for the family, working at the National Park Service, while Carrie home-schooled Owen. Please consider making a donation to support the Flanagan-Jantz family during this incredibly difficult time, so they can focus on healing instead of mounting financial pressures.
Also on view is the shot at the top of this post, as well as pics depicting Flanagan's love of cycling, including this one....

...and this one....

At this writing, donors have pledged just shy of $15,000 toward a $20,000 goal. For more information, click here.

Our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Tom Flanagan.

Below, see Zachary Strnad's booking photo.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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