Drunk driving is one of the top causes of automobile accidents, and the number of fatalities has been on a constant rise in recent years. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 11,654 people were killed in drunk driving incidents nationwide in 2020, which is a 14% increase from 2019. Per the same data, about 32 people in the United States died in drunk-driving crashes every day in 2020, which is one person every 45 minutes.
Although all of these incidents were easily preventable, an increasing number of people are being caught behind the wheel while intoxicated. Most people decide to drive while drunk simply because they feel completely OK to drive, although it’s well-known that alcohol has a huge impact on the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination, which are all necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.
A drunk driving incident in 2019 in Florida was fatal for a 10-month-old baby who was killed in a crash when the infant’s grandmother crashed her vehicle while she was holding the baby on her lap. Nearly three years after the incident, the court process against the grandmother is still ongoing as she faces aggravated manslaughter of a child and DUI manslaughter charges.
Helen Mention, now 52 years old, is accused of killing her grandchild in the incident that happened on October 25, 2019, during the morning rush hour. According to investigation conducted by the local authorities, Mention, who was driving her Nissan Altima, almost ran into another car at a Shell gas station before it pulled onto the road, rolled over a median, then turned west onto Interstate 4, where it slammed into a guardrail.
When first responders arrived at the scene, both Mention and her 10-month-old granddaughter Harlem were unconscious, suffering from serious injuries sustained in the crash. They were immediately transferred to a hospital for treatment. Despite doctors’ efforts to save the baby, she died in hospital three days after the crash, while Mention recovered in the upcoming weeks.
The tests conducted in the hospital showed that Mention was driving drunk at the time of the fatal crash. In addition, the investigators discovered that Harlem was sitting on Mention’s lap, which explains why the baby was found laying beside Mention after the crash. A few weeks after the deadly incident, Mention was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and DUI manslaughter. As of now, the court process is still ongoing.
Christine Brown, the prosecutor in Mention’s case, offered her a plea deal which included 15 years in prison, followed by two years of community control and three years of drug offenders probation. During a virtual court hearing earlier this month, Mention said she was ready to plead guilty but explained that she wanted a much lighter sentence, a total of four years in prison, as she suggested pleading guilty in open court and letting the judge decide her fate.
Mention’s attorney called an “advisory” from the judge which means that the judge will now have to review all the evidence provided by both parties, the prosecution and the defense, before advising both sides how he or she may rule when it comes to a sentence. Judge Barbara Twine-Thomas didn’t give them a number, but more like a range.
“I’m not convinced that four years would be appropriate, and I’m equally not convinced that 15 years is required under the circumstances,” said Twine-Thomas as reported by Fox 13.