Man gets 10 years for crash that injured infant

An Augusta man whose blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he was involved in a traffic crash that left a baby seriously injured was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday.

 

Dexter J. Thomas, 53, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to serious injury by vehicle and driving with excessive blood alcohol concentration. His blood alcohol level was .213; in Georgia a driver is presumed to be intoxicated at .08.

Mr. Thomas apologized repeatedly to Tiasha Houston, the young mother who described her son's life since Mr. Thomas rear-ended her vehicle June 7 on Meadowbrook Drive.

Kadin was a healthy, 3-month-old until the accident left him with skull fractures and a broken leg, Ms. Houston said. He was in a coma for days, and he still suffers from seizures that require hospitalization, she said. He has to endure series of weekly medical tests, and doctors cannot say whether the damage will be permanent.

"It's just been real hard," Ms. Houston said.

Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers said Mr. Thomas' criminal record included a conviction for driving under the influence from 1986 and a couple of violations for driving on a revoked license. Mr. Thomas had no other DUI convictions, however.

Mr. Thomas said Tuesday he wished he was the one who was so severely injured that day.

That's partly the reason DUI cases are so tragic, said Judge Michael N. Annis. Mr. Thomas intentionally drank and drove a vehicle without intending to cause harm. But the crash was Mr. Thomas' fault because he recklessly disregarded possible consequences, the judge said.

Judge Annis also imposed a five-year probation sentence to be completed once the prison term concludes. While Mr. Thomas is on probation, he must pay $80,000 in restitution for the baby's medical bills that have accumulated so far. He must also perform 500 hours of community service by working with disabled children.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.