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Three to six years in prison for drunk driver responsible for Wolfeboro crash

Union Leader Correspondent

February 23. 2018 9:06AM
Sarah Kelley supports herself with her crutches to stand as she shares a tearful goodbye with her fianc, right, after she was sentenced to three to six years in prison on Thursday. Her lawyer, Justin Littlefield, stands beside her. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

A clearly distraught Sarah Kelley appeared in Carroll County Superior Court on Tuesday to plead guilty and be sentenced for a drunk driving crash that maimed her and seriously injured a Dover mother and daughter. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

OSSIPEE — A woman who downed three five-liquor cocktails within 15 minutes before getting behind the wheel of her car and then causing a head-on crash was sentenced to three to six years in prison on Thursday.

Sarah Kelley, 32, pleaded guilty to aggravated DWI with bodily injury resulting, and two counts of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon in connection with a Feb. 25, 2016, motor vehicle accident on Route 28 in Wolfeboro, near the intersection of Trotting Track Road.

Prosecutor Steven Briden said Kelley drank three Long Island ice teas and just 20 minutes after leaving the bar she tried to pass in a no-passing zone and struck an oncoming sport utility vehicle.

The defendants blood alcohol level was at least three times the legal limit and she also tested positive for marijuana and benzodiazepine.

During a plea and sentencing hearing in Carroll County Superior Court, Tannah Curtis of Dover said she was driving to a friend’s house to makes pizzas for lunch when the crash occurred about 12:30 p.m.

“That afternoon changes our lives forever and is one we will never forget,” she said.

Curtis said she suffered a “burst fracture” in a vertebrae in her lower back, a shattered knee cap and a lacerated liver, and needed help from her now husband and extended family to do the simplest tasks during her lengthy recovery.

Her career as a hairdresser has been jeopardized as she is no longer able remain on her feet for the 10- hour days the job requires.

The crash also injured her daughter Shylah, who was 10-years-old at the time. She suffered a fractured eye socket, facial lacerations and a broken hand and foot.

“I can’t stop thinking about how this person made the conscious decision to get wasted then get behind the wheel,” she said.

The prosecutor read Shylah’s victim impact statement that recounted she is still self-conscious about her physical scars and remains anxious about riding in a car.

“My left eye is so much smaller than my right. People ask if I have a lazy eye. I have to explain that a drunk woman hit me and my mom in our car,” Briden read.

Public Defender Justin Littlefield told the judge he was not trying to minimize the impact resulting from his client’s actions, but thought it was important to highlight that Kelley suffered serious injuries as well, spending 33 months either hospitalized or at Crotchet Mountain Rehabilitation Center.

“It has not been an easy road since that day and she will continue to have medical struggles,” he said.

“This is not something that Sarah did on purpose. She didn’t attack someone with a deadly weapon. The result is the result, but that was not her intent,” Littlefield said.

Littlefield asked the judge to impose a 1- to 2-year sentence, citing Kelley’s medical condition and the fact that she has never been in jail. He also disclosed that Kelley recently learned that she is expecting a child and is concerned about how a high-risk pregnancy will be handled in prison.

Her fiancée, Tom Quindley, said Kelley remains sober and “regretful of that day.”

She has suffered from repeated bone infections in her right leg and will likely face amputation if it reoccurs.

“The sentence she has to deal with is for the rest of her life. Personally, I don’t know what more you could do to her,” he told the judge.

“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done. I never thought my negligence could hurt someone else. Their faces will haunt me every day,” Kelley said.

“There is no question that this is a tragic event on everybody’s part, and that the pain and disruption is going to go on for years,” said Judge Amy Ignatius.

In looking at the photographs of the mangled vehicles provided by the prosecutor, Ignatius said all three could have easily been killed.

Calling the one to three year sentence proposed by the defense as “woefully inadequate,” she imposed the three to six requested by the state.

Kelley’s license will be revoked for two years following her release from prison, and if her driving privileges are reinstated by the Department of Motor Vehicles she must have an ignition interlock device installed on her vehicle for one year. She was additionally ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the town of Wolfeboro for the cost of the emergency response. The court recommended she receive substance abuse counseling while incarcerated.

On the two reckless conduct charges Kelley received identical 3.5 to 7 years sentences that were both suspended on the condition of good behavior for eight years. She will remain on probation for five years following her release but may apply for early termination.

Courts Crime Public Safety Ossipee Wolfeboro Dover

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