Saturday, March 10, 2012


Back in my working days, I worked in a building next door to an elementary school. The waiting area had large windows, almost walls of glass, looking out at the school and the street. The week before Christmas 2002, shortly before the start of our two week break, we could see parents gathering for the school assembly next door. That meant we could also hear the squealing of brakes, followed by screaming, commotion, and in due time, sirens. 

Our janitor went to check on what had happened and came back with a sad story. A car had gone out of control and hit a mother pushing a stroller along the sidewalk, hard enough to knock the 11 month old out of the stroller. Rumor had it, and later turned out to be true, that the baby was dead.

The driver of the car did not stop but sped off, chased by another driver who got a license number to give the police. In due time Sheri McElveen was arrested and found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.27 (0.08 is legally drunk) and to have traces of cocaine and prescription drugs in her system.

For some reason that incident came to mind last week, and I vaguely wondered where McElveen was doing time.

This morning I saw this story in our local newspaper.

A woman convicted almost a decade ago of killing a toddler while driving drunk was arrested Tuesday and is accused by State Police of causing a head-on collision with a tow truck, again while driving drunk.
Tuesday’s crash occurred at 12:45 p.m. on Airline Highway near Berringer Foreman Road when Sheri McElveen, 52, crashed her Honda Accord into a tow truck while driving on the wrong side of the road’s median, an affidavit of probable cause says. . .

McElveen pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, first-degree vehicular injuring and hit-and-run driving on Sept. 3, 2003. She was sentenced to a year in the Ecumenical House, a year of home incarceration, followed by five years probation.

I am not usually a person who complains about courts being “soft on crime” or who wants all criminals locked up and the key thrown away (that person would be my older brother). But really, a year in a halfway house for killing a child? Is that justice?

1 comment:

  1. It always bugs me that killing someone with a car attracts a lesser penalty than, for example, hitting them with your fist. If you're drunk, punch someone and they fall, hit their head and die you're looking at manslaughter charges where I am. I basically feel that if you have a blood alcohol reading when you've killed someone by driving you should also be facing manslaughter charges. Any charge with the word "homicide" in it should attract more than 6 months in a halfway house as a penalty, sheesh.

    (Mind you I also feel that if you're caught for the third time driving drunk, unlicensed and in an unregistered vehicle - as seems to happen surprisingly often here - then you should be jailed outright for a minimum of 6 months. Because obviously taking away the vehicle and license wasn't enough to make them think twice.)