Drunk driver sentenced for death of Nanjemoy firefighter
The drunk driver responsible for the death of beloved Nanjemoy volunteer firefighter Autumn Marie Jenkins, 20, was sentenced in Charles County Circuit Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to negligent vehicular manslaughter in April.
Darren Loyce Windsor, 24, of Indian Head was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, with all but three suspended by Administrative Judge Amy Bragunier, who listened to impact statements from family members of both sides before handing down her sentence.
Three hours after swerving over the center line and colliding head– on with Jenkins in April 2015, the man registered a .14 blood alcohol level at a shock trauma unit, according to court proceedings.
“This case is nothing less than a tragedy,” Bragunier said, noting the great loss to the Jenkins family and Windsor’s apology to them.
On April 28, 2015, Jenkins was
driving a Kia Soul south on Route 425 near Tim’s Place in the late evening when Windsor, driving his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, crossed the center line and crashed into Jenkins’ car. Her fellow volunteers from the Nanjemoy fire department were the primary responders to the accident, and struggled for several hours to extricate her mangled body from the wreckage, according to court proceedings. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
“I remember the night like it was yesterday,” said her father, Tom Jenkins. “I remember kissing my daughter and saying goodbye.”
Jenkins, who joined the Nanjemoy Volunteer Fire Department when she was 16, was his only child.
Charles County State’s Attorney Anthony Covington (D) asked for Bragunier to sentence Windsor above the guidelines to send a message to other potential drunk drivers. He argued that “drugs and alcohol do not compel people to get behind the wheel and ultimately kill someone.” Rather, deciding to drink and drive is a “criminal mindset,” he said, and “sooner or later … somebody is going to die.”
Covington said he firmly believes that a strict sentence could help deter future drunk driving incidents, and asked that a “significant, thought-provoking sentence” be imposed.
Defense attorney William Renahan asked for a lenient sentence within the guidelines, citing that Windsor had a clean criminal history, with just a marijuana possession charge, and was a father to a young son.
In a courtroom filled with grieving family and friends of Jenkins, Windsor turned around to face them and apologized.
“I can’t imagine what you went through burying your daughter,” he said. “And I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
Windsor’s mother told the court that her son went back to the crash site and left flowers on the anniversary of Jenkin’s death.
Ultimately, Bragunier sentenced Windsor to three years of active incarceration with seven years suspended and five years of supervised probation upon release, and allowed him to begin his prison term next week. “You will be out,” she said to him, “and you will have a life to carry on.”
After the hearing, members of the Nanjemoy volunteer fire department left the courthouse parking lot aboard Company Engine 41, dedicated in Jenkins’ memory.