Driversentenced in February crash

Published on Thu, Aug 3, 2006 by ara Nelson

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Driver sentenced in February crash

By Tara Nelson

One of the drivers in a February 28 multiple-car crash that killed two Blaine high school girls and injured two others was sentenced Thursday to a maximum of 80 weeks in a juvenile detention facility.
The 17-year-old Blaine high school student and Point Roberts resident was arraigned July 27 in Whatcom County Superior Court on a plea deal with Whatcom County prosecutors. She will likely spend between 36 and 80 weeks in a juvenile detention facility for two charges of vehicular homicide and two charges of vehicular assault, in addition to several hours of community service.

The Northern Light does not publish the names of minors in criminal matters.

Anna Gigliotti, a Whatcom County juvenile prosecuting attorney, said that based on the fact that the female driver has no prior criminal history, she is recommending the driver serve the standard range of 15 to 36 consecutive weeks in the institution for each charge of the two vehicular homicide charges and 30 days for each of the two vehicular assault charges, based on the severity of the injuries.

The vehicular assault charges may also include 150 hours of community supervision and up to 500 hours of community service.

Gigliotti, however, said the actual amount of time served will be determined when the female driver arrives at the facility.

“The time she spends there will be based on a number of factors, including behavior, participation in programs and community service,” Gigliotti said.

The recommendation was based on findings of a Washington State Patrol investigation that used a reconstruction of the scene and witness statements that determined speed was the underlying cause of the accident.

An affidavit of probable cause submitted by Whatcom County prosecutors alleged that at approximately 9:15 p.m. on February 28, the driver of a white 2004 Subaru Impreza owned by Denise Hackett, also 17, of Blaine, was traveling at speeds upward of 85 miles per hour in a 60-mile-per-hour zone when it started to follow a blue 1992 Subaru Legacy, driven by Blaine high school student Curtis Richardson.

As the Impreza approached the Legacy, Richardson allegedly moved into the right lane to allow the Impreza to pass but the driver did not. At that point, Richardson sped to avoid the Impreza but the driver continued to follow him within two feet, eventually hitting the rear fender of his vehicle, sending the Impreza spinning across the median and into the southbound lanes, where it was hit by a full-sized pick up truck driven by Mount Vernon resident Judith Olson.

Olson suffered extensive injuries including a fractured pelvis, arm and several broken ribs, which required a 13-day stay at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and seven weeks in a rehabilitative center.

Kailey Walter and Brittney Armstrong, both 17, of Blaine, were rear passengers in the Impreza and were killed in the collision.

Hackett was the right front passenger in the Impreza and sustained a pelvic and arm fracture, according to court records.

Brittney’s grandmother, Diane, gave testimony asking for the maximum penalty.

“Brittney’s death is the hardest loss I’ve ever dealt with and while I realize that while there isn’t any sentence that will bring Brittney back, I hope the driver of the car will understand the consequences of her actions,” she said.

The driver’s mother spoke in her behalf to the families of Walter and Armstrong.

“Myself and my family wish to express our most heartfelt condolences to the Walters and the Armstrongs in the loss of their daughters Kailey and Brittney,” she said. “I cannot begin to know your intense sorrow that you must face each and every day.

“As a mother I cannot imagine how you miss your daughters’ beautiful presence in your lives. We also wish to express that my daughter is suffering as well. She will live with the knowledge of the consequences of her actions for the rest of her life.”