A Martinez woman who severely injured several children in June when she crashed her car while driving intoxicated was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday.
Tara McConnell also received 15 years probation from Superior Court Judge Daniel Craig. McConnell pleaded guilty to 12 of the 24 counts she was initially indicted on, including serious injury by vehicle charges for each of the six children riding in her car unrestrained in addition to six counts of endangering a child under 14 years of age. The other 12 charges were dismissed because they “overlapped” the ones she pleaded guilty to, Assistant District Attorney Pete Lamb said.
Through tears, McConnell issued an apology to the families and the six children, which included her 10-year-old son, who was not present. One child, Arwen Bargeron, 11, who was seated in the front seat, suffered a traumatic brain injury and her younger sister Violet, 6, who was seated in her lap, is now paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
McConnell pulled into the path of an oncoming truck hauling a trailer at the intersection of Columbia and North Belair roads on June 5. The children’s injuries ranged from ruptured spleens, lacerations and bruising to fractured and broken ribs, arms and pelvic bones.
Lamb described the timeline of events to the court including McConnell’s “comatose” state induced by a blood alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit when she got in her Honda Accord, buckled her seat belt but left the children unrestrained, to head to a nearby gas station for slushes less than 3,000 feet away before she crashed.
Several parents spoke at the hearing, including the mother and father of Matthew, Arwen and Violet Bargeron.
Melissa Bargeron, their mother, described the medical procedures her three children underwent due to the injuries they sustained, their more than two months stay at a children’s hospital and the ongoing care both girls still require.
Lamb read aloud a statement from Madeline Elliott, who was also in the car along with her brother Jeremiah, describing the impact McConnell’s actions had on their lives. Lamb also read aloud a statement from Arwen Bargeron, which stated, “Tara McConnell has injured all of us forever.”
Five of the six children injured were present in the courtroom for McConnell’s sentencing.