Woman pleads guilty in wrong-way interstate crash
CHARLESTON, W.Va.--A Charleston woman pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and causing a wrong-way wreck on Interstate 77 that killed the driver of a small pickup truck.
Angela Walker, 45, a mother of three, entered the courtroom Thursday using a cane. She had trouble controlling her voice as she told a judge about that night last spring.
"I plead guilty, Your Honor," she said. "On March 28, I was driving under the influence of alcohol and cocaine on the interstate. It resulted in the death of Edward Bryant."
Walker was supposed to go on trial Monday. The only concession made by prosecutors in the plea agreement is that they will not ask for a specific sentence in the case when she next faces the judge in January.
After the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach explained to the victim's family members that the judge could impose a wide range of sentences on Walker, from probation to up to 10 years in prison.
She is currently on home confinement and has been ordered by Circuit Judge Duke Bloom not to drive.
Giggenbach said he didn't object to that status as long as she adhered to the conditions.
"As long as she is not driving, not drinking, not doing cocaine, I have no objection," he said.
Giggenbach also told the judge, "Mr. Bryant was going down I-77, he was passing a tractor trailer and he met the defendant driving toward him. Basically, he never stood a chance."
Police believe Walker entered the interstate the wrong way at Greenbrier Street. The head-on collision with Bryant occurred near the Westmoreland Road exit.
She was also injured in the wreck and was in intensive care for a while afterward. Her attorney, John Mitchell, said Walker still suffers the effects of injuries to her legs, back and hip.
Bryant, 48, was traveling to work at about 2:30 a.m. in his 1993 Chevrolet S-10 pickup. He was an employee of Medford Trucking in Malden.
His father said the family is struggling to cope with his death.
Edward Bryant of Big Chimney said, "It has been a hard, hard thing for the family to endure. You can't imagine what the family feels.
"It's hard to live with," Bryant said. "In a way I'm glad there won't be a trial, but that don't satisfy the hard feelings the family has.
"I guess she pleaded guilty to keep the family from going through a jury trial, but that don't help much," he said.
Bryant said his family is hoping Walker is sentenced to prison.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4832