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Woman sentenced to rehab after wreck with jogger

Man injured in wreck still recovering two years later

POSTED: August 13, 2010 11:05 p.m.

A Gainesville woman who struck and seriously injured a youth minister while driving drunk will spend at least a year in a substance abuse rehabilitation center and another four years in a work release jail after pleading guilty in Hall County Superior Court.

Annette Jackson expressed remorse to Judge C. Andrew Fuller for the May 7, 2008, wreck that seriously injured 58-year-old Vester Lewis, Hall County Chief Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Burton said.

Jackson, 48, pleaded guilty to serious injury by motor vehicle, DUI and failure to maintain lane.

Lewis was jogging along the side of Tanners Mill Road near its intersection with Jones Lane about 1:30 p.m. when Jackson’s Pontiac Trans Am plowed into him, sending him flying.

The impact fractured his spine, broke his ribs, punctured a lung and destroyed a rotator cuff. Lewis spent several months at the Shepherd Center recovering from his injuries and underwent multiple surgeries. He was eventually able to walk with the assistance of canes but is currently wheelchair-bound after a recent surgery to his calf.

Prior to the wreck, Jackson had been drinking wine at a local restaurant. She had a blood alcohol content of 0.243 grams, about three times the legal threshold of intoxication, Burton said. It was Jackson’s second DUI arrest.

At her sentencing hearing, several friends and family members of Jackson’s testified on her behalf.

Lewis, his wife, and two of his daughters also addressed the court during the sentencing hearing.

"He testified that his most important concern was that she get help so she doesn’t do this again," Burton said.

Jackson’s attorney, Rob Chambers, asked the judge for a sentence of 18 months of work release followed by 18 months of rehabilitation followed by 18 months of house arrest. The prosecution asked for five years in prison, followed by a year of rehab followed by a year under house arrest.

Fuller’s full sentence was 15 years, with 10 to serve in prison, but with the prison sentence suspended upon the completion of rehabilitation and four years of work release.

Lewis, a retired AT&T employee, served as a youth minister for Hopewell Baptist Church. He continues to have physical therapy several times a week, Burton said.



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