Local News

Victim's mom upset woman charged in DWI crash is out of jail

Posted October 15, 2014
Updated October 16, 2014

— The mother of a boy seriously injured last week when a drunken driver hit him and killed his best friend says she's upset that the driver is out of jail.

Pauline Sue Champion, 46, was charged with reckless driving, driving while impaired and death by motor vehicle in the Oct. 7 wreck that killed Cornell Hester Jr., 18, and left Crystal Neale's 15-year-old son, Charles, with a traumatic brain injury.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said Champion was headed west on Burnside Road in Henderson when she lost control of her vehicle, crossed the center line and hit Hester and Charles Neale, who were walking to Hester's home.

Champion was later released on a $75,000 bond.

Crystal Neale said Wednesday that she is frustrated that bond in the case wasn't higher.

"In order to curb this type of action, there needs to be higher penalties for it," she said.

Neale said she and her husband met with an attorney Wednesday to explore legal options in the situation.

Vance County District Attorney Samuel Currin said Wednesday that prosecutors did ask for a bond increase but that it was denied.

"I have to say, the bond that was set is perfectly in line with the guidelines in our district," Currin said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, friends and family said goodbye to Hester at a funeral held at West Vance High School, where he attended.

Neale said it's not fair.

"(Champion)'s back out at her house while me and my husband stay at the hospital every day (with our son), and (Hester's family) had to bury their son," she said.


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  • 678devilish Oct 16, 2014

    They need to really tighten up the law of DWI's. I agree, the driver should have remain locked up until trial.

  • LetsBeFair Oct 16, 2014

    not sure why people just go and interpret the law anyway they see fit according to their emotions. the process isn't over yet.

  • btneast Oct 16, 2014

    Are you really so naive as to believe that an alcoholic whose license has been suspended won't drive? Exactly. Laws and rules are for law abiding people, habitual dui folks are not law abiders.....

  • shd-be-doing-something-else Oct 16, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Are you really so naive as to believe that an alcoholic whose license has been suspended won't drive? If so, I have a bridge for sale. Would you be interested in buying it?

  • iknowjack Oct 16, 2014

    See, the problem is, so many judges and legislators are flat-out drunks themselves they'll never enact tough laws against DWI. This could be them one day and they know it.

  • didisaythat Oct 16, 2014

    When are people going to realize that bond has nothing to do with the punishment process. That is merely there to make sure (to the best of it's ability) that someone comes to court. Yes it is somewhat subjective, but that is because you are taking into account the charge and other factors to come to a reasonable amount.

  • Renee Grainger Oct 16, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    The problem here, on the bail issue, is that this happened in Vance County. For whatever reason, mostly political, bonds here NEVER fit the crime. It is a horrible situation for both of these young men's families. A $75,000.00 bond is "normal" here for murder. Normally, a DWI gets about a $10,000.00 bond along with a slap on the hand. Things don't happen, in Vance County, like in other counties, that's why the crime rate is so high here. Most crimes go unreported because victims know nothing will be done and if it is a political figure or a person of high agency like County Commissioner, down to a Fire Chief, that commits the crime or one of their family members, don't even get printed in the newspaper and if it does it is just a little article and then you never hear of it again. Sad but true.

  • nonPC Oct 16, 2014

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    Do you honestly think they wouldnt get alcohol...in the end they would and the only folks truly punished would be responsible citizens since they then would have to pay higher prices.

  • TimeWillTell Oct 16, 2014

    I'm fine with license loss and higher fines, but neither of those things physically keeps a drunk from driving. Ergo, removing the ability to get drunk or making it much more difficult seems logical to me - one can't drive drunk if one cannot get drunk.

    We have a system in place - flawed though it may be - to prevent felons from buying guns - no "fines" or "license loss" there. Alcohol directly or indirectly kills or disables many more people than firearms, and we do nothing to keep it out of the hands of convicted drunk drivers, Go figure.

  • foodstamptrader Oct 16, 2014

    I thought killing someone while DUI was felony vehicular homicide or aggravated manslaughter? Seems like her bond would be much higher considering the potential charges.

    Sad she is out to drive and kill again so soon. Nothing stopping her from getting behind the wheel blasted again....