Woman pleads in crash case

Drove in­tox­i­cated with in­fants; col­li­sion set fire to two ve­hi­cles

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com

A Lusby woman pleaded guilty to driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated Wed­nes­day in district court for re­port­edly caus­ing a May crash that left two cars en­gulfed in flames.

Trav­el­ing with twin 6-month-olds se­cured in car seats, Ni­cole Marie Bland, 32, drove her Dodge Car­a­van into a Chevro­let Cava­lier, push­ing the car into on­com­ing traf­fic and caus­ing it to be hit by a Toy­ota Prius. The Cava­lier and Prius caught on fire. One driver had some se­ri­ous in­juries, and the twins were not in­jured.

Af­ter the ac­ci­dent, Bland faced a num­ber of traf­fic charges, in­clud­ing driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence, neg­li­gent driv­ing, reck­less driv­ing and us­ing a hand­held phone while the car is in mo­tion, on­line court records showed.

Calvert’s As­sis­tant

State’s At­tor­ney Mon­tra Martin said Wed­nes­day in court that the pros­e­cu­tion and de­fense came to a com­pro­mised plea deal with which nei­ther party is happy.

Un­der Mary­land Im­paired Driv­ing Laws, the con­vic­tion of driv­ing while in­tox­i­cated by drugs or al­co­hol or both car­ries up to 60 days of jail time for a first of­fense. A con­vic­tion of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence, which in­di­cates sub­stan­tial im­pair­ment, car­ries a much higher sen­tence — up to one year of im­pris­on­ment for a first of­fense.

As a first of­fender, Bland re­port­edly said she had sleep is­sues the night prior with her two young chil­dren and had taken pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion that could have af­fected her abil­ity to drive.

Ac­cord­ing to Martin, Bland also said she had

some head trauma from the ac­ci­dent, though she re­port­edly told Dfc. Stephen Bowlan of the sher­iff’s of­fice that she did not have any head in­juries right af­ter the ac­ci­dent. Bland re­port­edly failed the field so­bri­ety test and was deemed im­paired by the of­fi­cer. At the time, she re­port­edly re­fused to take a breath test.

Martin told District Court Judge Michelle Saun­ders that the two sides have agreed to a 30day sus­pended sen­tence, though the fi­nal sen­tence is up to the judge. Martin said the govern­ment would also ask Bland to be eval­u­ated for sub­stance use.

The ac­ci­dent at the in­ter­sec­tion of Route 2 and Way­side Drive in Sun­der­land came to po­lice at­ten­tion around 3:05 p.m. May 12. Bowlan re­sponded to the scene to find two cars en­gulfed in flames. When the cars caught fire, po­lice said nearby cit­i­zens helped re­move the oc­cu­pants from their burn­ing ve­hi­cles.

Bland re­port­edly told po­lice that she was trav­el­ing north­bound on Route 2 and looked down at her phone for GPS di­rec­tion. When she looked up, she said she re­al­ized she was about to hit the Chevro­let, driven by Mathew Smith of Bush­wood, who was wait­ing to make a turn at Way­side Drive. Her car ended up hit­ting Smith’s car, push­ing it into on­com­ing traf­fic. Smith’s car was stuck again by the Prius head­ing south.

Smith, 30, was trans­ported to med­i­cal care via he­li­copter due to his in­juries.

Rachel Brod­er­ick of Hunt­ing­town, the driver of the Prius, said in court Wed­nes­day there doesn’t seem to be any re­morse or sym­pa­thy com­ing from Bland. She clar­i­fied later in an email that she didn’t have any con­tact with Bland since the ac­ci­dent and said Bland doesn’t seem re­morse­ful to her be­cause she didn’t even give her the cour­tesy of look­ing at her while she ad­dressed the court.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment, Brod­er­ick wrote that she “thought for sure that I was go­ing to die” when she re­al­ized her car was go­ing to hit Smith’s car.

At that brief mo­ment, she said she thought about her kids and her hus­band, David, whose fa­ther died in a car ac­ci­dent when he was a child.

“I couldn’t be­lieve that I wasn’t dead. I also couldn’t be­lieve my car was on fire,” she wrote, not­ing the ac­ci­dent hap­pened the day be­fore Mother’s Day.

“My kids had made me cards and bought the in­gre­di­ents to make me break­fast in bed,” she wrote. “What if my hus­band had to tell them that night that they wouldn’t be able to give me those cards the next morn­ing, or ever, be­cause I was dead, the way his mom had to tell her sons that their dad was dead?”

Brod­er­ick said in court she finds it ter­ri­ble that there are loop­holes that al­low some­one who could se­ri­ously hurt some­body, in­clud­ing her own chil­dren, to not be pros­e­cuted for a more se­ri­ous charge.

Bland’s lawyer Larry Lam­son re­sponded in court that his client is re­morse­ful.

“She wants peo­ple to know she didn’t in­ten­tion­ally do this, and she def­i­nitely did not want to hurt her own chil­dren,” he said while Bland stood next to him.

Saun­ders said she wants to see Bland in treat­ment and set the sen­tenc­ing date for Dec. 21.

Bland

DUNKIRK VOL­UN­TEER FIRE DEPART­MENT PHOTO

Two cars were en­gulfed in flames on May 12 af­ter a crash at the Route 2 and Way­side Drive in­ter­sec­tion in Sun­der­land.

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