Quantcast

Texting-while-driving suspect sentenced in crash - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Texting-while-driving suspect sentenced in crash

Posted: Updated:
Emma Vieira Emma Vieira
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Deborah Drewniak made her way to the witness stand to testify about a crash that broke nearly every bone in her body. In 2011, Emma Vieira hit Drewniak with her car, admittedly distracted by a text message. The now 20-year-old driver is up for sentencing and the judge wanted to hear how the victim is doing.

"This hardship is definitely the hardest experience I have faced during my 54 years of living," Drewniak's little sister, Elizabeth Brigante, read from a statement Drewniak wrote.

Brain and nerve damage make Drewniak's words too hard to decipher.

"She has handed me and my family and the people I know a life sentence resulting from her inability to drive responsibly," Brigante read.

Drewniak's family described a newfound stress following the crash. The once independent woman is now totally reliant on her siblings for everyday tasks.

"All I have ever wanted to see is remorse and to say you are sorry. We have never seen that," said Karen Drewniak, Deborah's sister-in-law.

In October, Vieira pled guilty to gross negligent operation with serious injury resulting and struck a deal with prosecutors that limited her jail time.

Tuesday, Drewniak and her family finally got the tearful apology they've been waiting for.

"I am sorry, Deborah," Emma Vieira said. "I wish I could take all your pain away and I do wish I could take your spot and give you your life back. I never meant for any of this to happen."

"I don't know what I'll do if my daughter goes to jail. She's my world," said Regina Vieira, Emma's mom.

Regina Vieira defended her daughter, describing her as a sensitive, caring kid. She begged the judge to spare her from jail time.

"There's rough people in there and it's not going to better her," Regina Vieira said.

"Although I'm not a great believer in general deterrence, I don't want word to get out that it's OK to text and drive," Vt. Superior Court Judge Michael Kupersmith said.

The judge sentenced Vieira to 30 days in jail, 5 months home confinement and 5 years probation. Outside court, Deborah Drewniak said she was happy with the sentence and hopes drivers will learn one lesson from her tragedy: "If your car is on, turn you phone off. The distractions are too costly to justify facing," she said.

Vieira won't go directly to jail, but her home confinement will start Wednesday. The judge says her 30-day sentence must be served consecutively, not broken up on weekends like lawyers wanted. But he says he'll be flexible on the start date given her mom's upcoming surgery that will temporarily leave Emma as the primary caretaker for her 5-year-old brother. Vieira will also be required to take a defensive driving course and complete 500 hours of community service, half of which can be spent doing household chores for Drewniak, if Drewniak approves it. Additionally, Vieira will be required spend 100 hours talking to high school students about her experience and the dangers of distracted driving.

Related Stories:

Vt. texting-while-driving trial ends in plea deal

Vt. texting while driving case wrapping up

Trial starts for Vt. teen accused of texting-while-driving crash

New charges for teen accused of texting while driving accident

Judge sides with texting teen

No driving for Vt. woman accused in crash

Charges stand in Vt texting and driving case

Colchester teen denies texting while driving

How effective is Vermont's new texting and driving law?

Police: Driver who hit Colchester pedestrian was texting

Colchester crash lands pedestrian in hospital

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Man accused of taking school bus on a drunken joy ride

    Man accused of taking school bus on a drunken joy ride

    Sunday, August 31 2014 12:09 AM EDT2014-08-31 04:09:10 GMT
    A Lowell man faces a slew of charges after allegedly stealing a school bus.
    A Lowell man faces a slew of charges after allegedly stealing a school bus.
  • Three hurt in Essex crash

    Three hurt in Essex crash

    Sunday, August 31 2014 12:08 AM EDT2014-08-31 04:08:33 GMT
    A two car accident in Essex Saturday evening.
    A two car accident in Essex Saturday evening.
  • Drug bust in Bristol

    Drug bust in Bristol

    Sunday, August 31 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-08-31 04:07:19 GMT
    Police say David and Cathy Fleming of Bristol, Dameon Williams of Brooklyn New York, and Oleitha Turner of Mount Vernon New York have been arrested.
    Police say David and Cathy Fleming of Bristol, Dameon Williams of Brooklyn New York, and Oleitha Turner of Mount Vernon New York have been arrested.
  • Bike and donut race in Burlington

    Bike and donut race in Burlington

    Saturday, August 30 2014 9:14 PM EDT2014-08-31 01:14:42 GMT
    It's a race for bike riders with a huge appetite. Finally, the kind of race where eating too many donuts is not only okay, but all part of the strategy to win.
    It's a race for bike riders with a huge appetite. Finally, the kind of race where eating too many donuts is not only okay, but all part of the strategy to win.
  • Motorcycle rally rolls through Killington

    Motorcycle rally rolls through Killington

    Saturday, August 30 2014 9:14 PM EDT2014-08-31 01:14:05 GMT
    The Killington Classic motorcycle rally brings in thousands of enthusiasts excited about bikes and gives the local economy a boost.
    The Killington Classic motorcycle rally brings in thousands of enthusiasts excited about bikes and gives the local economy a boost.
  • DJ A-Dog remembered in Burlington

    DJ A-Dog remembered in Burlington

    Saturday, August 30 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-08-31 01:12:52 GMT
    Skateboarding is usually not permitted in City Hall Park in Burlington – but Saturday was an exception to the rule.
    Skateboarding is usually not permitted in City Hall Park in Burlington – but Saturday was an exception to the rule.
  • Mini Highland games in Quechee

    Mini Highland games in Quechee

    Saturday, August 30 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-08-31 01:12:06 GMT
    Saturday young campers at the Quechee State Park competed in their own Mini Highland Games.
    Saturday young campers at the Quechee State Park competed in their own Mini Highland Games.
  • Music Festival in Burlington

    Music Festival in Burlington

    Saturday, August 30 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-08-31 01:11:24 GMT
    Musicians from around the world are making their mark in Vermont this week.
    Musicians from around the world are making their mark in Vermont this week.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.