Local News

Woman Injured in Wrong-Way Wreck Angry Over Driver’s Sentence

Posted April 16, 2008

— A woman injured in a head-on crash on Interstate 540 said she is angry over the prison sentence given to the driver who slammed into her.

Bettie Coates, 42, was headed home from work early on Oct. 25 when her Ford Mustang was hit head-on by a drunk driver on eastbound I-540 between Creedmoor and Six Forks roads.

“It's been hard because before the car accident, I was very active,” she said.

After six surgeries and extensive physical therapy, Coates finally learned to walk again a month ago.

“I'm still recovering. My life will never be the same. I have rods and pins and all kinds of things throughout my entire body,” Coates said.

Eblin Fabiel Ocampo Cruz, 22, of U.S. Highway 70 West, was convicted of driving while impaired, reckless driving, failure to reduce speed and possession of a revoked license.

Coates said that while she has undergone months of pain and suffering, Cruz was sentenced this week to two years in prison. She said that is a small price to pay for what he did to her.

“I'm very angry at the sentence. I really am," Coates said.

The sentence was not part of a plea deal; it was up to a judge. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Cruz received the highest possible sentence under state guidelines.

Coates said she believes the law needs to be changed.

“I think what's happening is they're going in and they're getting a slight sentence, just a slap on the wrist and they get back out and they do the same thing all over again,” she added.

Coates said that until the laws change, tragedies like hers will continue to happen.

“It's just often that you turn the television on and you see where someone has died or someone has been hit by a drunk driver,” she said.

Court records show that Cruz was also convicted of a DWI in 2006 – his first of at least five appearances in court that year.

Cruz is an illegal immigrant. After he serves his sentence, he will be turned over to federal authorities, who will begin the deportation process.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • educgrad Apr 17, 2008

    just a smack on the hand for him, an insult to all those who want drunks off the road

  • koolady Apr 17, 2008

    She should sue NC and Wake County for not enforcing the law. It is time to circle the wagons and deport all illegals.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Apr 17, 2008

    mccrae1471: "The solution to this problem is very simple. If there are no jobs, then there would be no illegal aliens. Ten years in prison for anyone who hires an illegal alien. We would not need to deport them, they would just go home".

    That would be great. I too am tired of all of this. Yet if you apply for a certain job, today they want you to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Why? I live in the United States of America where the language is English. Why should the english people have to learn spanish. I believe it should be require that Hispanics and other cultures should learn the English language. Period! In this manner they are taking our job to those who can speak spanish and english fluently.

  • smeade1 Apr 17, 2008

    Yea! Mike Honcho! I like that idea!
    BTW - I'm really tired of pressing "1" for English.

  • ladyblue Apr 17, 2008

    That woman has a right to be angry. It is going to take her longer to recuperate than this man will spend in jail. History shows us he will get out early and then he will be doing the same thing. If he respected the law he wouldn't be driving on revoked license. I think if you are a foreigner and have not become a legal citizen yet, that means you are hear legally, and you are caught driving drunk twice or more then you should loose you papers and be returned to your native land. If you are are natural or adopted citizen then you should automatically spend five years behind bars with no exception. That's just my thoughts.

  • oldschooltarheel Apr 17, 2008

    Hmmm...illegal alien, multiple drunk driving convictions, severe bodily harm to another, destruction of another's property (a car is the single largest investment most US citizens have other than a home) - & he gets 2 years? How about some punitive damages for him to work off while in the "big house" rather than sitting around costing US citizens $$$? How about a bill for his keep & supervision being submitted to the Mexican government? How about a work farm for this drunk law breaker to "contribute" on? The Mexican government should be bills from all state & federal prisons for these aliens. Additionally they should be billed for the cost of deportation. Finally victims like this poor woman should be supported by the US (as well as state & local govts) in submitting claims to the Mexican government. Or maybe the feds just should take it out of the financial assistance we give to Mexico....

  • mccrae1471 Apr 17, 2008

    The solution to this problem is very simple. If there are no jobs, then there would be no illegal aliens. Ten years in prison for anyone who hires an illegal alien. We would not need to deport them, they would just go home

  • babyluv Apr 17, 2008

    okay give him his time let him do the time and send his behind back over there(where he was born)!!! He does not deserve to be here if he can't follow the Laws!!!! This situation could have been so much worse that it was and its bad enough this young lady continues to suffer at the hand of the justice system. Way to go...another one just getting a slap on the wrist!

  • TheAdmiral Apr 17, 2008

    "This person is serving 2 years in jail THEN he is being deported. I think this is a big DEAL! What is wrong with you people?"

    He will be back in as little as three weeks with a different name doing the same thing.

    The DMV still hands out drivers licenses like candy, so the victims have to live with the problem he caused for life, but he gets two years and deportation and back doing it again.

    That is what is wrong with us.

  • jimbo1951 Apr 17, 2008

    This is just another insult to the American people who abide the law. The growing number of illegals who know they can do whatever they want and get away with it because our so called justice system has become a joke. Our taxes are constantly providing legal representation to these idiots to get them off or a small sentence knowing they will be repeat business. Is that what it is all about, MONEY for the lawyers and court system.