LIMA — A Lima woman will spend eight years in prison for a drunk driving accident in which four college students were injured — one of whom lost her ear.
Christine Simpson, 59, was sentenced for two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony, on Wednesday afternoon. Her driver license will be suspended for ten years after her release and she received six points on her driver’s license.
According to court proceedings, on Oc. 17, 2021, Simpson, who has a prior OVI conviction, drank a large amount of alcohol before driving her pickup truck in downtown Lima the wrong way on a one-way street. She crashed into a Jeep Wrangler holding four college students, turning it on its side.
The victim who was driving the car, Ella Delamotte, said during the hearing that the group had been driving to another friend’s apartment when they were hit. She said she passed out and woke up upside down, covered in blood.
Delamotte said she saw her friend, Veda Patterson, trapped under the car and covered in blood, especially around her head. The woman, the others who’d been in the car and some passersby lifted the car off Patterson and she was lifeflighted to a hospital in Columbus.
Delamotte said she was afraid her friend would die and she felt helpless. After speaking with a detective, she said she learned that if the car had rolled over instead of landing on its side, her and her friends would like have died.
“I feel terrible for making my parents worry or cry,” Delamotte said.
The woman questioned Simpson’s reasoning for driving instead of getting a ride, and said she is afraid the next time she does, someone will be killed. She said she often has nightmares in which she sees Patterson covered in blood.
“You almost cost one of us their life,” Delamotte told Simpson.
Patterson said as a result of the accident, she wears a prosthetic ear and has a traumatic brain injury that affects her memory. She said she often forgets common words, which has been frustrating.
“It’s like I’m searching for a word that doesn’t even exist,” Patterson said.
Patterson said while she was in the hospital, she lost all independence and felt demoralized. She said she can never forget what happened.
“We are forever affected,” Patterson told Simpson.
The other people who were in the Jeep did not appear for the hearing, but one suffered a fractured skull and the other a severe concussion and lasting memory problems.
Simpson’s attorney, Kenneth Rexford, said before the accident, the woman suffered through the deaths of family around her, including her husband. He said “she broke” and didn’t handle her grief “correctly.”
Rexford said Simpson is not a bad person who doesn’t care about anyone and made a mistake. He said she has been attending counseling and treatment for alcoholism.
Simpson said that evening was a “bad, stupid mistake” and she hasn’t touched alcohol since. She said she tells herself every day that she will never drink again.
“I am truly deeply sorry for what I have done,” Simpson told the victims.”Maybe one day you could forgive me.”
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser said she does not see Simpson as a bad person, but her pain does not excuse her actions and their consequences. She said the woman was given a second chance after her license was restored from suspension following her prior OVI, and she did not make any changes.
“Miss Simpson, you’re very lucky you’re not here on an aggravated vehicular homicide,” Kohlrieser told the woman.