Crime - Sacto 911

Former Paragary’s chef pleads guilty in DUI death

Joseph A. Short
Joseph A. Short Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department

Joseph Anthony Short, the former Paragary’s chef involved in a drunken Highway 50 collision that killed a motorist in April, could spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Short faces a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison as part of the plea agreement accepted before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Goodman. Authorities said Short’s blood alcohol level was 0.35, more than four times the legal limit of 0.08, after the deadly impact.

Short also admitted to two prior charges of driving under the influence and to an allegation of driving with a high alcohol content, said Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Clark.

A Nov. 15 sentencing is scheduled before Goodman.

Short was chef de cuisine for the popular midtown Sacramento restaurant at the time of the April 24 wreck that killed David Condell. Authorities said Condell, 51, pulled over to help his wife, Tian Condell, whose car had run out of gas. Both were preparing to leave around 6 p.m. when Short’s car slammed into Condell’s vehicle as Short tried to pass traffic on the freeway’s shoulder.

The force of the collision slammed Condell’s car into his wife’s car and sent Short’s vehicle careening across the busy highway, where it struck another vehicle traveling in the far-left lane, authorities said.

“I’m still dealing with the fact that he’s no longer with me,” Tian Condell said in a Bee interview the day after the accident.

Motorists in the moments before the fatal crash had reported a drunken Short weaving in and out of lanes of traffic before the crash that killed David Condell, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Short’s initial three blood alcohol readings following the April wreck were 0.385, 0.361 and 0.378 – all far above the California limit of 0.08.

Short pleaded no contest in 2010 to a charge of DUI, according to Sacramento Superior Court records. Clark said Short’s blood alcohol content was 0.36 in that incident.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith