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Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

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Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Old 04-29-15, 08:42 AM
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Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

At first glance, I think this is bullshit. This woman was sentenced to 1-2 years for killing someone in an auto accident. An accident that involved no drugs or alcohol but someone falling asleep at the wheel. What do you think?

Woman heads to jail for fatal Route 145 crash caused by lack of sleep

A Northampton County woman sobbed Monday as she was handcuffed and taken to Lehigh County Jail for a crash on Route 145 that claimed a woman's life.

Courtney Quinn only had a few hours sleep in the 24 hours leading up to the April 2014 crash in North Whitehall Township that killed 65-year-old Jennifer Ebert.

Quinn, of the 4400 block of Katlyn Drive in Lehigh Township, previously pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and related charges. As part of the deal, prosecutors dropped a charge of homicide by vehicle.

Judge Robert Steinberg sentenced Quinn to one to two years in county jail, followed by two years' probation.

"You can't change what's done. You can't go back in time. You can't mend the broken hearts ... . All you can do is learn from your mistakes," the judge said to Quinn, calling the impact on Ebert's family "devastating."

Ebert's husband, John, had a prepared statement he wanted to read on the family's behalf.

"I can't do it," John Ebert said from the witness stand facing Quinn, his hand shaking as it held his statement.

Instead, Kimberly Silvestri, the county's victim and witness coordinator, read the words John Ebert had for the woman who took his wife of 44 years.

"I was honored to have had Jennifer as my wife for all these years," the statement reads. The couple was a month shy of their 45-year anniversary, and Jennifer Ebert planned to retire at the end of 2014 from her job with Lehigh Valley Health Network, John Ebert wrote.

They had plans to travel, to spend more time with their grandchildren, and to go out on their boat on Lake Wallenpaupack, John Ebert wrote.

That all ended on April 12, 2014.

Quinn, who was 19 at the time, went to class the day before, slept for about three hours, then worked an 11-hour shift at the Lehigh Valley Mall.

At about 8:30 a.m., Quinn's Hyundai Elantra crossed the line on Route 145 near Clearview and Neffs Laurys roads and struck a red Volkswagen Jetta driven by Ebert.

Ebert died, while Ebert's juvenile granddaughter and Quinn were injured in the crash, prosecutors said. Ebert's death was later ruled an accident.

In his statement, John Ebert said immediately after the crash his granddaughter tried to wake his wife, who was trapped in the car, and then the girl saw she was covered in her grandmother's blood.

The girl began screaming, and two women who stopped because of the crash got her out of the car, John Ebert said. The girl was in counseling, but is doing better, Ebert told Judge Steinberg.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Ryan Seiple previously testified that Quinn was traveling north on Route 145 when she swerved and struck Ebert, who was southbound. There were no visible signs that Quinn tried to stop or otherwise avoid the crash, he said.

Her Elantra's speedometer was stuck at 70 mph, Seiple said. The posted speed limit on that stretch of Route 145 is 55 mph.

Quinn cried through much of Monday's hearing, and apologized to the Ebert family "for everything I have put them through this past year."

Quinn said she has breakdowns "because I can't fix anything," and that she didn't know the tragic results of the crash until later because she didn't have access to her phone or a computer.

"I am so sorry, so sorry," she said before sobbing.

Defense attorney John Waldron noted the crash did not involve drugs or alcohol, and that Quinn doesn't have a prior criminal record, including no driving infractions.

Instead, Quinn was working full-time, going to school full-time, and had finished working a second job when the crash occurred, Waldron said.

"And a woman's dead ... at your client's hands," Steinberg added.
Old 04-29-15, 08:45 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Why is it bullshit? No different than texting and driving and causing an accident. If you are impaired in any capacity, you shouldn't drive.
Old 04-29-15, 08:50 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Anyone could fall asleep driving. It was an accident. There was no negligence of texting, or drugs or alcohol involved.
Old 04-29-15, 08:59 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

She shouldn't have been driving. She shouldn't have been going 15mph over the speed limit. Driving while drowsy is a scary thing, people don't think twice about doing it and it's dangerous.

She's obviously not a bad person. She was 19 at the time. She seemed to be an upstanding citizen, but she made a horrible mistake that cost someone their life. There are consequences to that.
Old 04-29-15, 09:00 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Only two years? Yes, complete bullshit.
Old 04-29-15, 09:05 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Anyone could fall asleep driving. It was an accident. There was no negligence of texting, or drugs or alcohol involved.
This is bullshit. Driving while lacking sleep is the same as driving under the influence.

"Anyone" cannot fall asleep while driving, unless that person is narcoleptic or lacking in sleep. If you're lacking in sleep while driving that is highly irresponsible of you and just the same as drunk driving.
Old 04-29-15, 09:07 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

I've had a couple of occasions where I had to drive very late at night and was tired. I don't think everyone is completely aware of how tired they actually are at all times. I think that's a bit harsh. There's a reason that this verdict is considered highly unusual.

Perhaps I shouldn't have stated my position. It may have tainted how people read this.
Old 04-29-15, 09:08 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
Only two years? Yes, complete bullshit.
Old 04-29-15, 09:11 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by Goat3001 View Post
She shouldn't have been driving. She shouldn't have been going 15mph over the speed limit. Driving while drowsy is a scary thing, people don't think twice about doing it and it's dangerous.
There have been times when I've been sitting on the couch, watching TV and I'll get drowsy. Then I have to go pick someone up at the airport and I'm suddenly wide awake. There's just something about controlling two tons of steel at 65 miles per hour that just wakes me up.

Unless you're a narcoleptic, who goes from awake to asleep in an instant, especially while behind the wheel? I can think of only one time I ever felt my eyelids getting heavy while driving. I found a safe place to stop my car and park and I took a short nap. I recognized that I was probably (getting) impaired and I knew to get off the road as soon as possible.
Old 04-29-15, 09:11 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Perhaps I shouldn't have stated my position. It may have tainted how people read this.
Impaired driving is impaired driving.
Old 04-29-15, 09:13 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I've had a couple of occasions where I had to drive very late at night and was tired. I don't think everyone is completely aware of how tired they actually are at all times. I think that's a bit harsh. There's a reason that this verdict is considered highly unusual.

Perhaps I shouldn't have stated my position. It may have tainted how people read this.
That's a bit different. I assume you weren't actually lacking sleep when you drove while tired. People get off work and then drive home tired. This is common. However, they're not so tired that they're going to fall asleep at the wheel. That isn't just being tired. That is being exhausted.

The article explicitly states that this woman only slept about 3 hours in a 24 hour period. She wasn't just tired. She was exhausted. Not getting enough sleep and driving is just as irresponsible as drunk driving or any other impaired driving.
Old 04-29-15, 09:18 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

That's a pretty sad story for all involved. I would say it's not exactly reckless negligence, and I don't know that prison is necessary, but she certainly bears some responsibility for getting behind the wheel in that physical condition.
Old 04-29-15, 09:18 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Perhaps I shouldn't have stated my position. It may have tainted how people read this.
Absolutely not. She drove impaired. She has to face the consequences.
Old 04-29-15, 09:22 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
That's a pretty sad story for all involved. I would say it's not exactly reckless negligence, and I don't know that prison is necessary, but she certainly bears some responsibility for getting behind the wheel in that physical condition.
I agree. I just don't believe prison serves any societal purpose. I'm pretty sure this young girl learned her lesson.
Old 04-29-15, 09:27 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Driving while tired should hold similar sentence to driving while intoxicated, while not as dangerous as someone that is blackout drunk, it's certainly more dangerous than somebody with a 0.08 Blood Alcohol Level.

Alas, you can't really prove "tired"

I've done it before, and I know how dangerous semi-nodding off while driving can be too, and avoid it like the plague these days.
Old 04-29-15, 09:34 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I agree. I just don't believe prison serves any societal purpose. I'm pretty sure this young girl learned her lesson.
This girl probably doesn't need to go to jail to stop her from ever driving drowsy again. But doesn't this teach others a lesson? I think it's just human nature to dismiss external consequences more than to dismiss internal consequences.

"I didn't sleep well last night, if I drive, someone else might die."
"I didn't sleep well last night, if I drive, I might go to jail for two years."

Which of those two thoughts is more likely to convince someone to pony up a buck fifty for a cup of coffee?
Old 04-29-15, 09:45 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I just don't believe prison serves any societal purpose. I'm pretty sure this young girl learned her lesson.
Would you feel the same if the driver was drunk or on drugs?
Old 04-29-15, 09:46 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

I'm fine with it. I think it is crazy that we have to have a specific law for every thing with regards to driving.

Driving is serious. It can kill you or others. You must be responsible for yourself and your car.

It may have been an accident, but it was preventable.
Old 04-29-15, 09:48 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by DRG View Post
Would you feel the same if the driver was drunk or on drugs?
Good point.

If I was driving drunk and I caused a fatal accident, killing someone would certainly teach me a lesson. Not only would I never drive drunk again, I would never drink again.

If I learned my lesson, I shouldn't go to jail, right?
Old 04-29-15, 09:55 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

This person did not drive impaired. She drove tired. We all have.
Old 04-29-15, 10:01 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
This person did not drive impaired. She drove tired. We all have.
You don't know the meaning of the word "impaired." You are impaired if anything, anything at all, hinders your normal performance. Texting while driving is impaired driving because texting hinders your normal performance. Driving while lacking sleep is impaired driving because it hinders your normal performance.

Also, as I mentioned before in a post above, driving while tired is not the same thing as driving while lacking sleep. Everyone drives while tired. After you get off work, you are tired and drive home. However, you aren't so tired that you will fall asleep at the wheel. You have to be completely EXHAUSTED to fall asleep at the wheel. A normal functioning person does NOT fall asleep suddenly. If you're lacking adequate sleep, then you are BEYOND tired. You are EXHAUSTED. This is ridiculously dangerous, and it's not even close to the same thing as just being simply tired.

Put another way, drinking one beer gets you buzzed, but not drunk. You can drive after one beer. This is equivalent to being tired. However, drinking 10 beers gets you plastered off your ass and it becomes dangerous to drive. This is equivalent to driving while lacking adequate sleep.
Old 04-29-15, 10:03 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

If it wasn't for Capitalism, she would have had a good night's sleep.
Old 04-29-15, 10:04 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by kgrogers1979 View Post
You don't know the meaning of the word "impaired." You are impaired if anything, anything at all, hinders your normal performance. Texting while driving is impaired driving because texting hinders your normal performance. Driving while lacking sleep is impaired driving because it hinders your normal performance.

Also, as I mentioned before in a post above, driving while tired is not the same thing as driving while lacking sleep. Everyone drives while tired. After you get off work, you are tired and drive home. However, you aren't so tired that you will fall asleep at the wheel. You have to be completely EXHAUSTED to fall asleep at the wheel. A normal functioning person does NOT fall asleep suddenly. If you're lacking adequate sleep, then you are BEYOND tired. You are EXHAUSTED. This is ridiculously dangerous, and it's not even close to the same thing as just being simply tired.

Put another way, drinking one beer gets you buzzed, but not drunk. You can drive after one beer. This is equivalent to being tired. However, drinking 10 beers gets you plastered off your ass and it becomes dangerous to drive. This is equivalent to driving while lacking adequate sleep.
I guess so.

I have gone to an Eagles and a Phillies game in the same day and then drove 75 miles home at 1:00 AM. I was tired. I don't quite know where the line is and perhaps this woman did not either.

And while I admit I have driven tired, I have NEVER driven drunk. Being drunk is obvious and therefore different.
Old 04-29-15, 10:04 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
This person did not drive impaired. She drove tired. We all have.
Most have probably driven drunk too (many of which were aware they had a beverage or two, but didn't know they were beyond the legal limit). But yeah, driving tired definitely falls under the definition of impaired.

Driving tired usually comes with a "nod off" phase for people where they struggle to keep their eyes open. I don't think most people just go into a narcoleptic sleep at the wheel in an instant.
Old 04-29-15, 10:07 AM
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Re: Woman heads to jail for fatal crash caused by lack of sleep

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I just don't believe prison serves any societal purpose.
I partially agree.

But I also agree in harsh punishments and paying back society/victims for my crimes.

If I killed someone through negligent driving I'd expect a penalty of something like: temporary loss of freedom, a partial garnishment of my lifetime wages for the victim's family and prevention programs, and a lifetime of a few hours a week of community service.

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