Bloomstrand sentenced in toddler son’s death
James D. Bloomstrand, 38, of Nome has gone to prison having received a sentence of 13 years for manslaughter in the death of his son.
Bloomstrand and 18-month-old Ronald Bloomstrand were ejected from the vehicle during a rollover accident at Bluestone Creek on the Bob Blodgett Nome-Teller Highway early June 18 last year. The child died from his injuries.
A medivac flight took the older Bloomstrand to Anchorage for treatment of his injuries.
Investigation by Alaska State Troopers revealed that Bloomstrand had been driving under the influence of alcohol after a night of drinking in Teller.
Bloomstrand was subsequently charged with DUI and manslaughter for recklessly causing his son’s death, based on AST investigation.
A court document signed by John Earthman, district attorney, said that Bloomstrand and the infant’s mother, Megan Topkok, drove to Teller the evening of June 17. When they got there, they left their son with a babysitter and went with friends to drink. At the end of the party, Bloomstrand picked up his son and headed back to Nome around 2 a.m. in his Dodge Durango. The babysitter observed Bloomstrand driving away at a high rate of speed.
When father and son did not reach Nome, the family began a search. The boy’s grandfather found the wreck just south of the Bluestone bridge where it had tumbled down the steep embankment, throwing off debris and car parts until it came to rest upside down in the Bluestone Creek. Both father and son had been thrown from the car onto the hillside.
Bloomstrand survived non-life-threatening injuries. The boy Ronald Bloomstrand, 18 months, was pronounced dead at the Teller Clinic.
Bloomstrand appeared for arraignment in Anchorage on June 22 and was transported to Nome. He has remained at Anvil Mountain Correctional Center pending bail of $50,000 since his arrest.
In an agreement with prosecution, Bloomstrand changed his plea to guilty on Dec. 19. Following receipt of Bloomstrand’s Pre-sentence Report, he appeared June 15 for a sentence hearing and Nome Second District Superior Court Judge Romano Di Benedetto’s ruling on the plea agreement for 13 years’ flat time—no probation.
Bloomstrand’s defense attorney, James S. Ferguson, told the court that Bloomstrand’s childhood had been shadowed by trouble, that he had huffed gasoline at age 8, had started using marijuana at 10 and alcohol at 12 or 13.
“These are not conventional acts, they are acts of children in a situation,” Ferguson said. There was no way to describe the events of the son’s death except that it was “a tragedy that had drastically affected Mr. Bloomstrand.”
Ferguson asked the court to recommend Wildwood substance treatment for Bloomstrand. Ms. Topkok would like him home as soon as possible, Ferguson said.
John Earthman noted that when he was not drinking, Bloomstrand was just fine, but that he was not making an effort to deal with that. “He and Ms. Topkok headed to Teller to drink,” Earthman said, adding that there was no reason to remove the child from the babysitter and drive, ending up with the car going off a cliff and the child’s death.
Di Benedetto handed down a sentence of 13 years flat, with no probation, as probation had not helped Bloomstrand in the past, the judge noted. The DUI charged was dismissed by terms of the agreement.
“I realize I am talking to a man who has lost a child,” Di Benedetto said, a child lost because of defiance of the law. “”When a child in a community is lost, a piece of all of us goes with the child; a piece of Mr. Bloomstrand went with the child.”
Di Benedetto urged Bloomstrand to deal with his drinking. “If you don’t there is no other way to help yourself and stop hurting members of your family and community,” Di Benedetto said.