A suburban Chicago woman was sentenced to seven years in prison Wednesday because she had trace amounts of marijuana in her system when she was involved in a 2009 crash that killed two people and injured others.
Alia Bernard, 27, of the 1500 block of West Galena Boulevard in Aurora, was sentenced for her role in the crash that killed Wade and Denise Thomas near Batavia on the morning of May 23, 2009, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The crash occurred whenthree cars were reportedly stopped in front of Bernard, waiting to turn left off Illinois Highway 47 in Kane County. Bernard allegedly rear-ended the back car into the others, pushing the front car in the way of a line of motorcyclists passing by. The Thomases were killed on one of those bikes.
Bernard had pleaded guilty to the charges even though prosecutors acknowledged that the small amount of marijuana in her system at the time of the fatal crash would not have made her high, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. She admitted to using marijuana two nights before the crash.
Court documents indicate she also texted someone around the time that the crash occurred. The Daily Herald reports that, according to the Kane County First Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason, she had texted her mother that morning complaining that she was not feeling well and also texted her boyfriend that she was "way too sick to drive" at 8:23 a.m. The crash occurred sometime between 8:20 and 8:25 a.m., according to media reports.
Bernard testified that she had been reaching for her sunglasses because the sun reflecting off the motorcycles created a "strobe light" effect at the time of the crash, according to the Daily Herald.
"For three years I’ve wanted to apologize. I never wanted to hurt anyone. I am so sorry for your loss," Bernard testified to the family members of those killed in the crash, according to the Sun-Times. "I’m just heartbroken."
According to St. Charles Patch, Bernard is required to serve at least 85 percent of her sentence -- seven years for each count, which will be served concurrently.
Bruce Brandwein, Bernard's attorney, said Thursday that they may appeal the judge's ruling which he admitted he understood "but I was disappointed in it. ... There are no winners in this case," the Kane County Chronicle reports.