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Family's tragedy moves attorney to tears

Posted June 1, 2009
Updated June 2, 2009

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— An emotional scene unfolded in Wake County Superior Court Monday when two families tied together by a fatal wreck made their pleas to Judge Ripley Rand.

Rand sentenced Christine Haithcock Meyers, 43, of 1149 Blackbeard Lane in Raleigh, to a minimum of 13 years in jail for the April 2008 collision that claimed the life of a father and son.

Two families mourn lives lost in wreck Two families mourn lives lost in wreck

Meyers was traveling west on Buffaloe Road when she drifted across the center line, causing a head-on collision with a car driven by Ruben Dario Medina.

Medina, 34, and his 10-year-old son, Jefferson, were killed. Tiffany Medina, 4, and Alex Sanchez, a family friend, were injured.

Before Rand issued his sentence, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden read a letter from Ludy Medina Fuentes, the wife and mother of the victims.

"We are constantly reminded of our loss. I lost a beautiful son and a great husband. The pain that I feel is unbearable," it read.

Cruden choked up and was unable to finish. Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita finished reading the letter as Ludy Fuentes sat crying in the courtroom.

Fuentes recalled how she found out about the wreck, then waited at the hospital only to get word that her husband and son had died.

"I felt like I was losing my mind from all of the pain," the letter read. "I could not believe what the drunk driver has taken from me."

Cruden asked the judge for the maximum possible sentence. "These aren't accidents,” he said. “These aren't mistakes."

"This family is torn apart."

Meyers also cried as she entered her plea and addressed the Medina family.

"I know the word sorry is a pretty small word right now,” she said.

“I am a mom myself and I cannot imagine what she's going through ... I want her to know that I am sorry and I will never do anything like this again."

Her defense attorney, Rusty Dement, presented letters of support from family and friends noting Meyers’ good work history as a surgical tech at Rex Hospital.

Meyers made "drastically bad decisions," Dement said.

"Good people make really bad, stupid decisions sometimes ... but they're still good people … She is saddened by what she has done."

Meyers chose to take a plea, her lawyer said, because she didn't want to put the Medina family through a trial. "She did not want to further their anguish," Dement said.

Meyers was also injured in the wreck. She was taken to WakeMed, where officers observed her red eyes and slurred speech. A test revealed she had a blood alcohol concentration of .15. In North Carolina, a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is considered impaired.

Meyers told police she took a prescription sleep aid and drank three beers on the day of the wreck.

Cruden said police found empty pill bottles and an open beer in Meyers's GMC Envoy after the collision. Meyers suffered from depression and was recovering from surgery at the time, her lawyer said.

The judge sentenced Meyers to between 157 and 198 months in prison on two counts of second-degree murder. She will serve at least 12 more years, after Rand credited her for the 14 months she has served since her arrest.

Rand gave Meyers a suspended sentence on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and ordered her to 48 months of probation, 200 hours of community service and substance abuse counseling after her incarceration is complete.

Ludy Fuentes and her daughter are struggling to adjust to life without father and husband, Cruden said. They pass by the site of the wreck every day, Fuentes wrote, and Tiffany, now 5, says, "Goodbye Daddy and Jefferson, I love you very much.”

"I hope this proceeding will give you peace and will help you move forward,” Rand said. “I'm sorry you're here."

To the defendant, he said, “You now have the responsibility to go forward and to do something positive, do something to help people."

It was not Meyers’ first brush with the law. She had her license revoked in 2007 for a DWI charge in Johnston County. It had been reinstated by the time of the crash that killed the Medinas, a highway patrol spokesman said.

64 Comments

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  • Starling Jun 2, 2009

    You talk like you are perfect little angels. I bet most of you have done something like this and was fortunate that nothing happened. Yes it is sad for everyone involved including the driver.

  • mom2threecld Jun 2, 2009

    they need to really crack down on people who drink and drive. she's right, sorry is a small word for 2 lives. the rule is simple if you drink don't drive, if you drive don't drink. why are people so STUPID and think it only applies to everyone but THEM??? ever how long she gets isn't long enough. if she valued her own children she wouldn't have been drinking and driving in the first place and wouldn't have created this problem

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jun 2, 2009

    There are very few "accidents" on the roads. Nearly all crashes are not accidents. If you do something, that you know is wrong, its not an accident. Not paying attention is NOT an accident. Not looking before turning is NOT an accident. Driving while mentally or physically hindered is NOT an accident. I am really hard-pressed to come up with a crash scenario that truly IS an accident. Maybe a premature mechanical failure, blinded by a bright light or the sun, or spilled oil on the highway would be considered a true "accident". But that's about it. Any other reason is simply negligence and is NOT an accident.

  • lorivalentine1 Jun 1, 2009

    Clearly she is a repeat offender and deserves every bit of time and then some for what she has done. Obviously the first offense meant nothing to her. Her words now are empty and she is only saying them because she killed people.

  • LookN4Reality Jun 1, 2009

    Shallow words and promises to never do it again. She already had been arrested for DWI previously, yet ended up getting drunk and driving again. Shallow words and promises.

  • mstan Jun 1, 2009

    lizard- You make a good point. If everyone followed the laws of the road (not speeding, running red lights, driving aggressively, etc) there would be very few "accidents" on the road. I wish I could say that this woman was going through a difficult time, but with the other DWI in her record, I think it is time she served time for her bad judgment. Bless the victims and their family, and also the children that this drunk woman has; I am sure they are going through a difficult time as well.

  • lizard Jun 1, 2009

    NC_interest

    These are not accidents. They are crashes and 99.999% of the time are caused by a violation of law.

    Until we start treating these situations as they are - severe violations of law - then no one will take them seriously.

    I don't care if the suspect cried.

  • wf307 Jun 1, 2009

    Compare the following story. This man was driving exceedingly recklessly, had a long history of carelessness behind the wheel, admitted to having "blacked out" before the crash, did not get blood tested by the Troopers, KILLED THREE PEOPLE, and was treated with astounding leniency by the courts (even the N&O was shocked).

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/1127599/

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/1403911/

  • Jack Flash Jun 1, 2009

    Should victim immigration status be considered in the sentencing of this woman?

    If you say no, then you can start to see how they need some protections while living in the U.S. This prevents them from being preyed on by criminals. Then, it’s just a short mental jump to say that they (and their children) should have access to emergency care. And that’s that basis for treating illegal aliens with some humanity.

    If you said yes, that victims’ immigration status does matter during sentencing...well...IMO that would just be sub-human."

    Well said, hereandnow. This site is filled with too many blustery rah-rah nationalists.

    Prayers to both families. Meyers is serving her sentence, light as it seems relative to the Medina family's loss. I don't think it lessens her punishment at all to be willing to forgive and hope she truly does learn her lesson from this.

  • 12345_here Jun 1, 2009

    chasityhamm

    Please go look up the following in a dictionary

    1. Intoxicate
    2. Mistake

    You will find the following

    Intoxicate

    1: poison
    2 a: to excite or stupefy by alcohol or a drug especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished b: to excite or elate to the point of enthusiasm or frenzy

    Mistake:
    Main Entry: 2mistake
    Function: noun
    Date: 1600
    1 : a wrong judgment : misunderstanding 2 : a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention

    So if someone is intoxicated, and they make a wrong action, it is a mistake.

    tragic or non-tragic.

    In this case it was an extremely costly mistake. One which many folks have to live with.

    for further education

    accident: 1 a: an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance b: lack of intention or necessity : chance

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