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Driver gets prison time for DOT worker's death

Posted September 22

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— A Princeton woman was sentenced Thursday to more than five years in prison for the death of a state Department of Transportation worker last year in a road work zone in Wayne County.

Tahisha M. Dukette, 29, pleaded guilty to felony death by motor vehicle as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to 64 months in prison. She had been charged with second-degree murder, driving while impaired and second-degree child abuse for having her two children, then ages 9 and 2, in the car with her at the time of the crash.

Authorities said Dukette was westbound on U.S. Highway 70 on March 23, 2015, when her 2003 Saturn Vue ran off the highway about 5 miles southeast of Princeton and struck William Grey Bailey in the median, killing him. Two other DOT workers working on the Goldsboro Bypass narrowly avoided being hit, authorities said.

Dukette said she was under the influence of prescription drugs, including Xanax and Prozac. She told Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens her doctor prescribed the drugs for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and that she had complained to her doctor that the medications were making her sleepy.

She said she has no recollection of the crash.

Bailey, 35, of Kenly, was an engineering technician who had worked for DOT for five years. The father of twin girls, he also volunteered with the Bethany and Micro fire departments.

"This is a tragedy beyond words," Stephens said.

Bailey's family agreed to the plea deal. His wife, Millie Bailey, delivered an impact statement before the sentencing. The last 18 months have been difficult for her, her sister, Michelle Pitts, said after the court hearing.

"Millie has done a great job making sure that justice has been served. I know it can't bring Grey back, and she understands that, but it's just something that she needed to make sure that (Dukette) doesn't get out on the highway and do this again," Pitts said.

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