deadly decision (updated 6/4/15)

 UPDATE 6/4/2015

No winners here. This young woman, now pregnant with another child has been sentenced to prison for the death she caused with the accident.  This is in published media reports, so it is public knowledge.  I hope this woman can get through this.  I still feel the same about her prior behavior, but there are no winners in this case. At least this time family members could be seen with her.

Here is the coverage:

Meredith Williams-Earle (in black and pink dress) leaving courtroom with her husband, Timothy Earle (left), and her attorney Christian Hoey. (Laura McCrystal/Staff)
 On the morning of Aug. 6, 2013, the Lower Merion mother took a prescription sedative, swigged champagne, and filled a plastic cup with whiskey as she headed out the door.

Then she strapped her 2-year-old son into his loosely fastened car seat in the back of her Toyota Prius and set out to drive him to day care. At Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue in Bryn Mawr, Williams-Earle sped through a stop sign and slammed into a flower delivery van.

Its 72-year-old driver died at the scene.

Now pregnant with her third child, Williams-Earle, 32, sat sobbing Tuesday in Montgomery County Court, apologizing and pleading for mercy…Judge William R. Carpenter said the death of Winston Staats could not be overlooked. Turning aside her requests to be free before her baby is born, he sentenced Williams-Earle to nine to 23 months.

The sentence brought to an end a tragic case that even perplexed the jury….The jury convicted her of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment – including endangering her own child…..and deadlocked on vehicular homicide.  By pleading guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter, she avoided a retrial.

FROM BEFORE:

meredith 3When Meredith Williams-Earle, a high school Latin teacher who lives in Bryn Mawr near Historic Harriton House, got into her car on August 6th, she was above the legal limit for alcohol and had Ativan (Lorazepam) in her system.  Not only that, but she had one of her children in the car.

What happened next, no one except her would know for sure, but media reports (based upon police reports) indicate mweshe blew threw a stop sign at Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue and struck and killed an older man in a delivery van.   Main Line Media News reported she was going 42 miles per hour.

I know where those roads meet quite well.  I worked in one of the Tower Bridge Buildings in Conshohocken for a decade and that is how I traveled back and forth. I remember hearing about the accident on KYW News Radio in my car when I was buzzing around on August 6th and thinking “wow that sounds like it could be bad.” You see, initial radio reports were in the form of a traffic advisory, no mention of anything other than something like it being called a serious accident.

mwe4

I was also saddened to learn that not only was this 30 year old mother a meredith 2teacher, but a graduate of my alma mater The Shipley School as well (and no I have no clue who she is, and I do not believe she was even born when I graduated high school). So bright, a mom, lived in a nice area, so what went wrong? Because something did.

meredithI am asking because the media has been floating photos of her out on the Internet and well, there seems to have been a metamorphosis.  She went from being a pretty co-ed at UPenn and pretty young teacher to the mug shot above.  You don’t travel from point A to point C without a point B. (And I am sure some reader somewhere will roll up and give me grief about writing about this, unfortunately.)

Bryn Mawr woman charged with DUI in fatal crash that killed Conshohocken man

Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com

Meredith Williams-Earle, a high school Latin teacher who grew up in Bryn Mawr, was trembling as she sat next to her lawyers at a preliminary hearing Thursday related to an accident that took the life of a 72-year-old flower shop delivery driver.

Williams-Earle, 30, who teaches at Interboro High School, was driving a Toyota Prius with her 2-year-old son in a car seat when she allegedly ran a stop sign and struck a van at 10:28 a.m. on Aug. 6 at the corner of Spring Mill Road and Morris Avenue in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office……..Officers spoke to Williams-Earle at the scene and smelled alcohol. Her eyes were glassy and her speech slightly slurred, police said…..Later…Williams-Earle allegedly admitted to Officer John Kuvik that she had taken Ativan the night before and felt dizzy that morning, according to the criminal complaint. …..a friend told her that alcohol reverses the effect of that sedative so she had drunk some leftover Champagne, the complaint said….defense lawyer Joseph Hylan argued that his client had lived in Lower Merion her entire life, was a graduate of The Shipley School….She lives with her husband, mother and two young children, on the 700 block of Harriton Rd.

DSC00662Ativan and champagne are a heck of a combination.  And the drug is prescribed for anxiety, correct? So I have to ask in the pill happy nation in which we live, who was monitoring this young mom and for what? What she one of the millions of women detrimentally affected by depression after having children? Was something going on regarding the home front? This is a woman who doesn’t appear to have had many brushes with the law so to speak (although I did find record of a speeding ticket in Radnor Township in 2011.)

Also something that bothers me is she did the “perp walk” caught on camera alone.

Where is her familial support?  Wouldn’t you think a young mom like this would have had either her husband or mother there?   A friend? A grandparent, aunt, uncle, someone?  The media reports that she grew up in Bryn Mawr and lives in that house currently with her husband, mother, and little kids.

NBC10 Philadelphia: Teacher Charged in Deadly Drunk Driving Crash         

By     Lauren DiSanto    |  Friday, Aug 30, 2013  |  Updated 6:16 AM EDT

A Delaware County teacher is charged in a drunk driving crash that killed a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran.

Meredith Williams-Earle, who teaches at the Interboro School District, was charged today with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence and recklessly endangering another person.

My initial reaction was to write a much more harsh post.  I have a huge problem with drinking and driving.   There are just too many tragedies.

But as I have read and seen the media coverage and read the comments left by people on websites with articles on this, the conclusion I come to in my opinion, is this is a woman in crisis. And these charges she is facing unless a county judge grants leniency is up to 3 years in jail.

My instincts (and I do not know her or even of her), is this is a person who would not survive jail.  And what good is justice if it creates more motherless children?

I have to think that this is a woman who needed help but no one was listening, or listening closely enough.  How do you live in a house with someone (again media reports other adults in her household, a husband and mother) and not know someone is in trouble or self-medicating?

Ativan is a high potency drug often used as a sedative. It is also  is used in the short-term treatment of anxiety and insomnia.  There could be any number of reasons she took it.  She could have been prescribed it or someone stupidly could have just given her some to take the edge off. We live in a nation of extreme pharmacology and well, pills are the new jellybean at times I think.

Sedatives are things I find both serious and scary.  If she was taking this drug for whatever reason she should not have been in a car, let alone left alone with the potential for pulling a Karen Ann Quinlan by mixing hard core prescription drugs with alcohol. And whomever this “friend” was who suggested she mix Ativan with champagne is a huge loser.   A friend is the person who says if you are dizzy let’s get you to a doctor, not have a drink and you can get in the car.

This young woman faces a boatload of charges (see docket sheet) –  two counts of homicide by vehicle, three DUI counts, recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving, careless driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, speeding and improperly restraining a child.

This is what you call a real tragedy, boys and girls. A 72 year old man not wearing a seatbelt and everything that was going on with Meredith Williams-Earle.

Meredith Williams-Earle is a woman in crisis.  I don’t know why no one has addressed whatever is obviously going on with her, but I wish they would.  I do not think she is just some run of the mill gal who likes to play with drugs and alcohol.  I believe, right or wrong, that she needs serious help. And support from her family.  Because if she had help and more familial support or even familial awareness I am not sure she would have been behind the wheel the fateful day of August 6th, are you? But I wasn’t there, I don’t know, and can only guess and opine…as can all of us except immediate family.

There are no winners here, only quite a few take away lessons of life. This story makes me sad.

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