Angela Kathleen Johnson, the woman whose wrong-way wreck last summer on the Route 250 Bypass caused life-changing injuries to a Wawa market worker, was sentenced Tuesday to the term stipulated in her late-February plea agreement: six years and eight months.
The sentence marks Johnson’s third drunk driving incident, one of which claimed the life of a 9-year-old boy.
“Quite frankly, as counsel has indicated, you are a danger to the public,” said retired Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr. as he pronounced the sentence on the 50-year-old Johnson.
Former Wawa market worker Kristie Howard was not in the courtroom on Tuesday afternoon, but a “victim impact statement” from her was entered into evidence.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same,” wrote Howard.
In her statement, Howard recounted some of the aftermath from the 3:22 a.m. incident on August 27 when, Johnson admitted, she passed out at the wheel and crossed into Howard’s path with a 0.19 blood-alcohol concentration. On what should have been a seven-minute drive home from her shift at the Wawa on Pantops, Howard reportedly suffered four skull fractures, two back fractures, 18 broken ribs, a lacerated liver and a broken sternum.
“I walk with a cane to be stable on my feet and not fall,” Howard wrote. “My ribs, chest and back hurt every day. I have headaches every day.”
Howard noted that the incident cost her the Wawa job as well as the ability to travel to see her mother, who lives out of state and was recently diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.
“This accident has shattered me in every way,” wrote Howard. “Financially, mentally, physically and emotionally.”
Johnson’s mother Rosemary Moody, a retired Norfolk teacher, took the stand to express regret that alcoholism ran in the family.
“Being in education, I’m supposed to be very observant, but I didn’t see it,” Moody said. “She was suffering for a long time.”
The problem burst into view in 2000 when, with two families on board, Johnson lost control of the SUV she was driving on Interstate 64. Nine-year-old Kaseem Christopher Woodhouse-Faulks was ejected and died. Found with a 0.13 blood-alcohol level, Johnson pleaded guilty the following year in York County to driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter.
Third-year University of Virginia law student Natalia Heguaburo narrated this history for the commonwealth’s attorney’s office and prosecuted the current case, which found Johnson guilty of second-offense drunk driving and feloniously injuring someone in such an event. Heguaburo noted that 10 years after the fatal crash Johnson again drove over the legal alcohol limit and was again convicted in York County.
“She never learned from the fact that she killed a 9-year-old boy,” said Heguaburo.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail where she has been held since last summer’s wreck, Johnson appeared sad and remorseful while answering questions from her attorney Scott Goodman.
“Sorry is not enough,” Johnson said in a tearful voice. “But I really and truly am sorry.”
As her mother, sister, a close friend named Marie Cox and her adult son watched from the gallery on the ground floor of the Charlottesville Circuit Court, Johnson expressed frustration.
“I’m desperate basically,” she testified. “I’m sick of this life, this jail and hurting people. I just want to apologize to my family for bringing them here and being a burden.”
Johnson’s mother said her daughter needs help.
“Alcoholism is a disease, and she wants to do an in-patient program,” said Moody. “And her family is behind her 100%.”
Johnson’s mother said that her daughter never intended to hurt anyone.
“I think she has been suffering since the death of the child,” Moody told The Daily Progress. “When you’re all alone and have nothing but that to think about, you do crazy things.”