Man sentenced for crash that paralyzed woman

Bert Maxwell was fleeing police when he collided into Jenny Royal's vehicle. Royal's back was broken, paralyzing her.

Bert Maxwell will spend every day for the next 20 years in prison, but the woman paralyzed because of his conduct will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.


Judge Michael N. Annis said Maxwell, 29, made a positive step Thursday when he took responsibility and pleaded guilty. Annis sentenced Maxwell for causing serious injury by vehicle, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and nine misdemeanor driving offenses.

In a letter later given to the victim, Jenny Royal, Max­well apologized and begged forgiveness. “I hate myself,” he wrote.

Because of three prior felony convictions, Assistant District Attorney Justin Jones filed notice that any sentence Maxwell received must be served without the possibility of parole.

On the night of Dec. 30, 2010, a deputy pulled over Max­well’s vehicle because the tag light was out. When the officer asked for his license, Maxwell took off, heading south on the wrong side of Deans Bridge Road at speeds over 100 mph, Jones said.

Maxwell crashed head-on with Royal’s vehicle. Her back and several bones were broken.

She thought the worst of it was that she would never walk again. As bad, Royal said, was the lack of privacy and dignity to simply care for any of her personal needs.

Royal said she will never again walk the beaches as she did growing up in Florida, delighting in the feel of the surf and sand between her toes. There will never be another annual vacation in the mountains. She often begs off outings with family and friends just because she is too exhausted, Royal said.

Of all of his cases, Jones said, he cannot think of a more senseless crime, caused by trying to avoid a minor traffic charge.

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