Updated: Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 3:35 PM MST
Published : Thursday, 19 Feb 2009, 11:14 PM MST
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The drunken driver who wiped out most of a family 16 years ago and spurred the cause of DWI reform in New Mexico will soon be back on the streets.
Gordon House of Thoreau, convicted of four counts of vehicular homicide, has now served 11 years of his 22-year sentence. The state Parole Board meeting Friday is expected to set the conditions for his release next month.
"Gordon House could spend the rest of his life in jail," Paul Cravens told KRQE News 13 Thursday. "It wouldn't bring Mel and the girls back to me."
On Christmas Eve 1992 an intoxicated House driving his pickup truck east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 slammed head-on into the Cravens' family on Albuquerque's West Side. Melanie Cravens and her daughters Kandyce, 9, Erin, 8, and Kacee Woodard, 5, died at the scene.
Husband and father Paul Cravens survived with serious injuries.
"I always miss Melanie and the girls," Cravens said Thursday. "It's been 16 years since they got killed.
"I pray a lot. I spend a lot of time talking to the Lord."
House's blood-alcohol level was reported to be 0.18, more than twice the current legal limit for presumed intoxication. After two mistrials, a Taos jury convicted him in 1994.
He has now served his time.
"It's completely out of our control that the state of New Mexico has laws that apply to the length of the sentence and the application of good time," Parole Board Director Ella Frank said. "We must follow the law."
Cravens said he's forgiven House and takes some comfort that his family's death may have saved countless other lives.
"If he's done his time then he really needs to get a chance to get out, live his life, enjoy his family united and move forward," Cravens said.
After the tragedy Cravens' mother in law Nadine Milford became a tireless activist fighting for and achieving tougher DWI laws. Those included lowering the legal level of intoxication and requiring ignition interlocks for first-time offenders.
Contacted by News 13 she said she was emotional to talk saying didn't expect House to be released this soon.
Cravens said he is grateful for Milford and her work but added the time is right.
"And I just think about Mel and the girls and how much fun we had to together, and I kind of think that they're up there looking at this and enjoying themselves walking with the Lord."
Frank said the parole board on Friday will order the strictest terms of release for House in the beginning for the safety of the community and to help him readjust to life on the outside.
House is expected to be on parole for two years and probation for three more.