Woman gets 9 years for a DUI crash in the Keys
A Florida Keys woman has been sentenced to nine years in state prison for killing a motorcycle passenger while driving drunk on U.S. 1.
She said the crime haunts her daily.
Mary Elizabeth Bailey was driving a Toyota SUV the night of Aug. 1, 2016, near mile marker 15, when she smashed into a motorcycle driven by Roger Walden. His girlfriend, Ronalyn Sylvia, was on the back of the bike.
Sylvia, 43, was killed. Walden’s leg was crushed.
Neither wore a helmet, said the Florida Highway Patrol, which reported that Bailey didn’t stop once she hit the Harley. She kept driving, pushing the motorcycle while sparks flew until she came to a rest outside Baby’s Coffee on Bay Point.
Bailey, 27, pleaded guilty Wednesday to DUI manslaughter and related charges. She must serve four years since it is the mandatory minimum for the crime. DUI manslaughter carries up to 15 years in prison.
But she will get credit for the nearly three years she has sat in jail waiting to resolve the case. She will also lose her driver’s license permanently.
Bailey said she didn’t see the Harley-Davidson Softail until she hit it with her RAV4.
Police found her on the side of the road crying. She had blood on her face.
Bailey’s blood-alcohol content registered as 0.183, more than twice the legal limit. In the backseat of her SUV, police found an open bottle of Tito’s vodka.
Neither Walden, nor anyone related to the victims, appeared in court. It was just family and friends of Bailey. Sylvia’s family lives in Hawaii, and prosecutors said they sent certified letters but got no response. Assistant State Attorney Nick Trovato handled the case.
Bailey’s father declined to speak to a reporter after the 20-minute hearing.
Bailey could barely speak through tears as she addressed Circuit Court Judge Mark Wilson at the Monroe County Courthouse.
“There’s nothing I can do to change what’s happened,” she said, wearing blue jail-issued clothes, leg chains and handcuffs. “From the bottom of my heart, I wish I could. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not haunted by the effects of my actions.”
Wilson said these types of cases are difficult because they’re not committed by people who intend to hurt others.
“These offenses are never intentional,” Wilson said. “There’s no undoing the damage.”
Wilson wished Bailey well, telling her she was young enough to have a life after prison.
“You can still make something of yourself.”