Driver gets 10 years for injury collision
May 9, 2006
A 20-year-old South Lake Tahoe woman was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for driving under the influence causing a collision that seriously injured a former Douglas County sheriff’s deputy, his wife and sister.
Kia Hanna must serve a minimum of three years before she is eligible for parole.
She admitted causing the Nov. 25, 2005, accident at Cave Rock and Highway 50 that resulted in major injuries to William Reynolds, 53, his wife, Terri, 45 and his sister.
William and Terri Reynolds, who live in Quincy, Calif., attended the sentencing but did not speak.
In a tearful apology to the couple, Hanna read a letter that she originally planned to give the victims after the sentencing.
But District Judge Dave Gamble told the young woman that Tuesday might be the only chance she had to face the couple.
He didn’t order Hanna to address the victims, but said it might be important to her own recovery.
“The folks you did this to are just over your right shoulder,” Gamble said. “This has to do with your life, not theirs.”
Turning to face the couple, Hanna wept as she read.
“I will have to live with the fact that the tragedy in your life is the only thing that saved mine,” she said. “I can do right by this situation by changing myself. I don’t expect you to believe me, but I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive me. Someday I hope to forgive myself.”
Gamble, who said he had known William Reynolds from his service as a court bailiff and deputy, called his injuries “devastating, unchangeable and unfixable.”
“There’s no fix for this, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, and I’m sorry for that,” Gamble said.
He encouraged Hanna to make the most of her time in prison.
“If this is lifechanging for anyone, I want it to be more lifechanging for you,” he said. “I believe your remorse is real. When you come out of the institution, you will have a long life ahead of you. This is a horrible, horrible event, but not the last event of your life.”
Gamble also ordered Hanna to pay $70,183.79 restitution to the victims and fined her $2,000.
“The judge said exactly what I wanted to say,” Terri Reynolds said after the hearing. “It was her lesson to learn and I hope she learned it.”
William Reynolds suffered a brain hemorrhage, fractured leg and pelvis, arm injury and lung complications.
Terri Reynolds suffered fractured ribs and punctured lungs.
“She has to be on oxygen when she sleeps,” said prosecutor Mark Jackson.
“Mr. Reynolds suffered a traumatic brain injury. Large portions of his memory are forever wiped clean. He has slurring of words, lost emotions and his tolerance level is low.
“The bone in his right leg was obliterated and has been replaced by titanium. He will suffer from pain every day for the rest of his life,” Jackson said.
Hanna’s lawyer, Marc Picker of Reno, said the effects of fetal drug and alcohol syndrome and her parents’ drug and alcohol addiction explained his client’s behavior but did not excuse it.
“Miss Hanna was on a two-pronged road,” Picker said. “From the first drink she took, that was it. She was going to be an alcoholic from then on. Her coping skill as taught by her parents was that when you have stress, you take a drink.”
According to court documents, Hanna told investigators she had smoked two bowls of marijuana the morning of the accident and consumed a drink with two shots of vodka before leaving for her job as a topless dancer at a Carson City adult cabaret.
She said the alcohol helped her relax prior to dancing.
Witnesses said Hanna was driving more than 65 miles per hour in light snow showers when she lost control of her 2004 Kia Sorrento. She overcorrected and collided with Reynolds’ 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.
Terri Reynolds said she was driving and as Hanna’s vehicle slid into her path, her husband called, “Watch out!”
The couple had planned to leave the next day on a trip to Hawaii. Instead, William Reynolds spent more than a month in the hospital.
In a letter to the court, Hanna said she had to thank the judicial system for saving her life.
“I believe, by the grace of God, that this has been what will save my life from total destruction,” Hanna said.
She added that after her release, she hopes to tell her story to high school students and juvenile offenders.
“I realize the depth of pain and suffering I have caused the Reynolds family,” she said. “If I could take away the physical and emotional suffering, I would. I plan to turn my life around.”