Local News

Wake Forest woman pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run wreck

Posted January 11, 2013

— A Wake Forest woman will spend up to 35 months in prison after pleading guilty Friday to charges stemming from a wreck on Interstate 440 last year that killed a man who was trying to avoid her approaching car.

Sarah Aimee Carden, 24, was sentenced to 25 to 42 months in prison, with seven months' credit for time served, on charges of felony death by motor vehicle and felony serious injury by motor vehicle.

Raleigh police said Carden was driving eastbound on I-440 West, near Hillsborough Street, on the morning of June 10 when Junior Tshimpangila Bajani, 30, tried to avoid a collision with her and crashed his Chevrolet Aveo into a guardrail.

Bajani was a student at Wake Technical Community College and had moved to North Carolina from Congo three years ago. He was on his way home from a wedding when the wreck occurred.

A passenger in Bajani's car was injured.

Carden, authorities said, kept going and traveled several miles before police and state troopers could get her to stop.

Her blood-alcohol concentration was 0.16, twice the level at which drivers are considered impaired under North Carolina law.

"What one side thinks is fair, the other thinks is unfair. What one side thinks is just, the other side thinks is unjust," Superior Court Judge Wayne Abernathy said during sentencing. "What I do here today, I suspect no one will agree me."

Sarah Carden Wrong-way driver pleads guilty in fatal wreck

As part of her plea deal, Carden received concurrent sentences of 25 to 42 months on the death by vehicle charge and 16 to 29 months on the serious injury by motor vehicle charge.

She also received a suspended prison sentence of 16 to 29 months for charges of felony hit-and-run inflicting serious injury or death and felony fleeing to elude arrest.

For five years after her release from prison, Carden must also spend 24 hours in jail on the anniversary of Bajani's death.

His sister, Joceline Bajani, said afterward that she is disappointed in the sentence and would have liked Carden to receive a more severe punishment.

"His vision here in America was to go to school and be a very good brother. Then, someone just came and stopped it, just like that," she said. "Only God knows how He’s going to help us, because it's a tough, tough situation. I lost my brother, and it's like a dream."


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  • luv4ubaskets Jan 16, 2013

    Unbelievable! I guarantee this isn't the first time this drunk/addict has drove under the influence. I bet with good behavior she will be out in 2 years. The judge should have ordered the victim's picture be plastered all over her jailroom wall.

  • TarHeel4Real Jan 15, 2013

    It is absurd that the most she will spend in jail is 3 years for taking a life. I agree that driving drunk is like firing a gun into a crowd, and the punishment should be harder. People know when they have had too much to drink and shouldn't drive, but they CHOOSE to do it anyway. If you drive drunk, it should be treated like assault. If you caused a wreck, it should be treated as attempted murder. And if you kill someone, it should be treated like 2nd degree murder at the very least.

  • HisLoVe Jan 14, 2013

    slap on the wrist for her. Just like Raymond Cook who killed the ballerina while driving drunk. Its sickening especially since you dont have to drive when you drink. Selfish acts.

  • mac240 Jan 14, 2013

    I guess your sentence depends who you are who you kill.


  • hp277 Jan 14, 2013

    "The only way we'll ever see a reduction in people killed by drunk drivers is if we get tougher!

    If you drink and drive and cause an accident in which someone was hurt, it should be considered assault with a deadly weapon and treated no differently than if you fired a gun into a crowd.

    If you drink and drive and kill someone, it should be a 2nd degree murder charge... I'd like to say 1st degree, but that'd be harder to stick."
    Pepe Silvia

    Well said. Should be treated the same as gun violence.

  • hp277 Jan 14, 2013

    "...was sentenced to 25 to 42 months in prison, with seven months' credit for time served, on charges of felony death by motor vehicle and felony serious injury by motor vehicle."

    Ridiculously weak sentence. If she was using a gun instead of a car, she'd be in jail for a decade or more.

  • chrisnrali Jan 11, 2013

    Alcohol has severely altered and destroyed millions of lives in the last decade alone. I enjoy the occasional drink but I would stand with anyone to convince our lawmakers to ban alcohol completely! We can't even count how many diseases have spread, unintended pregnancies or drunken beatings have occurred because of alcohol. I have watched it absolutely ruin people and their families lives. When will everyone march on washington and demand our leaders to do something about that???
    seankelly, your ignorance is clearly obvious with your remark. Do some research and stop listening to npr.

  • jacksun48 Jan 11, 2013

    Just goes to show how little value we place on innocent human life in this country. Drive drunk, kill someone, and spend a year or two in jail and go free. Wow! And they call this 'justice'?

  • seankelly15 Jan 11, 2013

    USAF20YR Ret - "In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes - one every 53 minutes. In 2011 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms."

    Not sure where you got those numbers, but in 2007, there were 31,000 deaths by guns. Of those approximately 17,000 were suicides leaving over 12,000 murders. So the number of drunk driving related deaths (your numbers come from MADD - an advocacy group - not an independent reporting agency) are 3000 less than murders using firearms. If one considers ALL deaths by firearms, the number is three times the number of drunk drivers. Good attempt at misrepresentation though.

  • seankelly15 Jan 11, 2013

    workingforthosethatwont - "more people died from automobile crashes than guns, when will the politicians ban cars?"

    Your comment is untrue as much as it reflects a certain level of ignorance.