The woman charged with drunk driving in a June 5 crash that left one child paralyzed and another with traumatic brain injury pleaded not guilty during arraignment proceedings Friday in Columbia County.
Tara McConnell did not appear during the hearing in which an attorney informed the court of the plea that had been entered on the 24-count indictment against her.
McConnell is facing six felony counts of serious injury by vehicle for each of the children in the car with her. She is also facing a slew of other charges including multiple counts of endangering a child under 14 years of age while driving under the influence, driving under the influence, lack of safety belts; safety restraints for children, reckless driving and failure to yield while turning left.
All six children were unrestrained and seriously injured, including McConnell’s 11-year-old son, after she attempted a left-hand turn into a gas station parking lot before being struck by an oncoming vehicle on Belair Road.
The children ranged in age from 6 to 11. Two sisters in the car, Violet and Arwen Bargeron, are still recovering. Violet, 6, was paralyzed from the breastbone down and her sister Arwen suffered a traumatic brain injury, and was in a coma for several days after the crash.
Authorities said McConnell’s blood alcohol level was six times the legal limit.