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Woman sentenced in reckless driving crash



Wald
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Wald
July 10, 2012 | 04:43 PM
Elkhorn — When Judge John Race sentenced a 19-year-old mom for felony reckless driving, he made it clear he wanted her to mature.

"She needs to grow up, she needs to realize she is not a child," Race said.

Sarah R. Wald, N3141 Canary Road, on Oct. 21 drove down Edwards Boulevard in a zigzag fashion while singing a song and traveling about 50 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Wald loss control of her vehicle, which crashed into a bridge embankment. As a result of the crash, a passenger in her vehicle, a-then-14-year-old girl, suffered a broken arm, pelvis and elbow. Three other passengers were also injured.

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Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld said that during the crash, the seat in front of the girl pulled up on her skin, degloving her right leg.

"It basically stripped the flesh from her leg," he said.

The victim, who is now 15, was in court wearing shorts. Scarring covering large portions of her right leg was obvious.

Race sentenced Wald to five years of probation, which includes one-year of jail, and 90 days of that sentence will be without work-release privileges. After the hearing, Wald was taken into custody.

Wald pleaded guilty on May 11 to three felony charges of reckless driving causing great bodily harm.

"I'm fully responsible for their injuries and their scars," Wald said.

In addition to Wald and the juvenile victim, Courtney Hedges, Trevor Becker and Kyall Smith were in the car at the time of the crash.

Becker suffered a broken vertebrae and Hedges broke her arm and had pins and plates placed in it, according to the criminal complaint. Smith was witnessed by police limping after the accident.

The 14-year-old girl's injuries were so serious that her family spent Thanksgiving in the hospital while she was recovering. She has had 15 surgeries since the crash and is expected to undergo more treatment.

Her mother said medical bills have surpassed $300,000. Health and auto insurance haven't covered all of the costs and unpaid medical bills have affected the family's credit rating.

"I need to know from Sarah how that car ended up on that bridge embarkment," the victim's father said. "It makes no sense to me to have this chaos in my family. I want an answer."

During her allocution, Wald answered that question.

"I was goofing around, and I wish I could take it all back," Wald said. "Every day I want to trade places."

Wiedenfeld said Wald had the 14-year-old sit in the base of a child's car seat before the drive. Wiedenfeld said Wald was treating her vehicle as a "toy."

After the crash, emergency responders used a Jaws of Life to remove the girl from the vehicle. He added that the girl was trapped inside the vehicle for quite sometime.

"(The fire department) received awards for removing her and saving her life," Wiedenfeld said. He added that the girl was lucky to still have her leg.

Wiedenfeld said as part of plea agreement the state didn't issue felony bail jumping charges against Wald, who allegedly violated a no contact order she had with the victim's family.

Wiedenfeld said in one instance Wald was "very apologetic," but in a Facebook post she wrote a message threatening to delay the court proceedings.

"If everyone keeps on (expletive) with me I'm going to plead insanity and make things more difficult for everybody," Wald wrote on Facebook, Wiedenfeld said.

Wald's defense attorney Bradley Lochowicz said his client is remorseful for her actions and the injuries the victim's suffered.

Race agreed.

"I truly believe she feels remorse," Race said. "These are her friends for Pete's sake."

Wiedenfeld asked the judge to include a sentence that had jail without work-release privileges.

(The family) wants her to understand and appreciate a small amount of how their lives were put on hold," he said. "They want the defendant to put her life on hold for a while. She doesn't appreciate at this point how bad of an accident this was."

Lochowicz said his client knew jail time was possible, but asked that it be with work-release privileges.

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