West Caln man sentenced for DUI crash
Samuel Mowday will serve 111/2 to 23 months in Chester County Prison
WEST CHESTER >> A West Caln man has avoided serving at least one year in a state prison cell, accepting a plea offer that will instead allow him to serve almost that same amount of time in Ches-
ter County Prison.
But more importantly for defendant Samuel Benjamin Mowday, said the judge imposing the sentence on Friday, he escaped the possibility of much more serious charges - or his own demise.
“You are very fortunate that you are not going to state prison,” said Common Pleas Judge Patrick Carmody to Mowday before sentencing him to 11 ½ to 23 months in county prison for the offense of aggravated assault while driving under the influence of drugs, a sentence that Mowday began serving immediately after the brief proceeding at the Chester County Justice Center. The prosecution, said Carmody, was “willing to take a state sentence of one year and make it an 11 ½ month sentence.”
But, the judge reminded Mowday, 36, a licensed welder and mechanic, there was more. “You could have killed yourself and this woman. There but for the grace of God this woman dies.”
“I understand,” Mowday said as he stood beside his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Laura Walker. “I understand.”
The woman that Carmody was referring to was Honey Brook area resident Tara Stagg, who suffered severe injuries in the crash that Mowday caused. Chief Deputy District Attorney Ronald Yen, who prosecuted the case, told Carmody that Stagg still suffers the after-effects of her injuries, which included fractured ribs, a broken left arm, and a fractured left leg from the hip to the shin.
According to Yen, the prosecution had decided to offer Mowday the county sentence in exchange for his guilty plea, instead of following the state’s standard guidelines of a minimum sentence of 12 months to 24 months. That was due, he said, in part to Mowday’s lack of any prior criminal record, and an almost spotless driving history.
“He has a ticket or so, but otherwise it’s a clean record,” Yen said. “We don’t feel that under the circumstances
that Mr. Mowday should be incarcerated in the state (prison) system at this time.” He said both Stagg and the police who charged Mowday were okay with the proposed plea agreement. Stagg did not attend the proceeding. “She’s been recovering, but it has been difficult,” Yen said.
The sentence also calls for Mowday, who was accompanied by family members in court, to serve two years of probation after his parole, and to reimburse Stagg for her expenses due to her injuries.
Besides answering Carmody’s questions about whether he understood what he was doing by pleading guilty to the assault charges, Mowday did not address the court.
In the facts as laid out by Yen and the arresting officer, West Caln patrolman William Smith, the crash occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 19.
Mowday was driving a car on Route 10 through Sadsbury, West Sadsbury and West Caln, where he lives, and was seen by another motorist weaving on the rural highway. “He was all over the road,” Yen said, noting that a passenger in a car behind Mowday had called 911 to report the erratic driving.
As the call was made, Mowday’s car drifted over across the center line and into the oncoming lane of traffic. There, he collided
head-on with Stagg’s car. According to Smith, Mowday escaped the crash with no injuries and was able to free himself from his car. Stagg, on the other hand, was pinned behind the wheel and had to be extracted from the car by the local fire company.
When Smith approached Mowday, the driver was staggering and spoke with slurred speech. A second officer was called to administer field sobriety tests, which Mowday failed. He told police that he had taken prescription
drugs before getting behind the wheel, including Clonazepam and Sabroxin, and had smoked marijuana.
Yen said the combination of drugs in his system made Mowday incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. He was charged in June after toxicology tests came back and showed the presence of all three drugs.