Mom who injured her kids in crash sentenced to 6 months
Prosecutor: Hurt someone while driving impaired, go to jail for long time
WAILUKU — For a drunken crash that severely injured her two young daughters, a woman was sentenced to a six-month jail term Thursday.
Jaydean Forlines was traveling at speeds approaching 100 mph with her four children in a sport utility vehicle when she drove straight into a utility pole near Old Maui High School on Sept. 19, 2017, said Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Segal.
He said a 10-year-old girl suffered a broken spine, nasal fracture and fractured arm, while her 12-year-old sister was “fighting for her life” with a torn artery in her abdomen, cervical spine fracture and other injuries.
“A 9-year-old boy and 18-month-old baby miraculously escaped without any major injuries but were terrified,” Segal said. “These children had almost been killed by their mother.”
In arguing for a one-year jail term for Forlines, Segal said, “The message to the community must be clear — if you drive while impaired, you will go to jail. If you hurt someone else as a result, you will go to jail for a long time. This community demands not just rehabilitation but retribution,” he said. “That’s the only way we can ever come close to stopping the pain and suffering inflicted by impaired driving every year.”
Forlines, 33, of Haiku had pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent injury, second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor and DUI. Other charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement recommending probation.
She agreed to maintain an ignition interlock device in any vehicle she drives while on probation.
Defense attorney Wendy Hudson asked that Forlines be spared additional jail.
She also suffered injuries, including a broken jaw, broken hip and shattered eye socket in the crash, Hudson said.
Afterward, Forlines “put all her time and energy toward rehabilitation,” Hudson said.
She said Forlines completed treatment last year at Malama Family Recovery Center. She also participated in the Family Court Drug Court program and was reunited with her children through Child Welfare Services, Hudson said.
She said Forlines is clean and sober and has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Last week, she completed a certified nursing assistant course, Hudson said.
“Every day she looks at her children, and she’s grateful they’re here,” Hudson said. “Every day she lives with the guilt and what she’s done. She gets it.”
Speaking in court Thursday, the girls’ father, Jon Ellison, said both girls spent more than a week in the hospital intensive-care unit after the crash; one had a severe broken neck and the other had a broken back and arm. Both were “out of school for quite a while” and haven’t been able to continue athletic activities, Ellison said.
One daughter faces another surgery to remove cables in her neck, Ellison said.
He said the girls and his son were in counseling after the crash. “I feel it’s important they continue that till things greatly improve, as much as we can to get back to where we were,” he said. “I’m really worried about the future.”
Speaking outside of court, Ellison said the three older children had been in the backseat of the Nissan Pathfinder, while the baby was in the front seat before the crash at 10:45 p.m. The older children hadn’t been wearing seat belts before one daughter woke up on the bumpy road, put her seat belt on, and woke her brother and sister to have them also buckle their seat belts, Ellison said.
He said he considers his son the “hero.” After unsuccessfully trying to get his sisters out of the vehicle that had sideswiped a tree on the driver’s side before hitting the pole, the boy went to the front passenger side and crawled over the baby to try to help his mother, Ellison said.
Before the crash in Hamakuapoko, the sport utility vehicle had traveled from Lahaina and was in Maalaea where Forlines was “doing doughnuts” in a parking lot “and scaring her children,” Segal said.
“The facts are the father was not even there that day,” Segal said. “There was only one person there, one person entrusted with the care. On that day, this defendant was the most dangerous person to these children in the entire world.”
In recommending jail time for Forlines, “the state recognizes and gives credit to the progress on her sobriety she had made since she almost killed her own children,” Segal said.
He referred to letters to the court supporting Forlines.
“Virtually every single letter refers to this crime as an accident,” Segal said. “That is incredibly naive and I think insulting to the victims of impaired drivers. This was no accident.
“This defendant intentionally consumed alcohol that day. She consumed alcohol to the point where, over five hours after the crash, her blood-alcohol content was still almost twice the legal limit.”
Forlines had a “pattern of poor choices in the years before the crash,” Segal said. She was cited for texting while driving, and in 2014 her speeding and swerving almost caused a collision while two children were in her vehicle, Segal said.
In 2015, Forlines was arrested for disorderly conduct when she was found belligerent and highly intoxicated, Segal said. He said a neighbor reported that Forlines was “constantly drinking and yelling for no reason.”
Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen asked why it took the collision for Forlines to become sober.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I think it had to be something so dramatic. . . . Part of me is grateful for it because it got me sober. And it can hopefully just get better. I plan to stay sober.”
“Well, that’s the least you should do — is to remain sober,” Bissen said.
He said it seemed as if he was being asked to give Forlines a break because she didn’t hurt someone else’s family and her family had forgiven her. He said drivers in such cases also often say that the criminal sentence doesn’t compare with what they have to live with.
“I don’t see it that way. I can’t see it that way,” Bissen said. “The part that’s being missed, that the prosecutor is trying to stress, is the deterrence this is supposed to have for the next mom — the one that’s not in your AA class, the one that’s not in the Family Court Drug Court.”
The judge said he had considered the improvements Forlines had made in sentencing her to the six-month jail term as part of five years’ probation.
She also was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving program and to pay $522 in restitution.
Forlines was allowed to turn herself in June 24, a couple of days after she is scheduled to take a final state-certified nursing assistant test. Bissen said attorneys could discuss how the defendant would serve the jail term, after Hudson said Forlines would lose her federally subsidized housing subsidy if she were jailed for 30 consecutive days.