HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A mother of three is sentenced to 25 years behind bars, an unusually high prison time for DUI charges. However, the victims' families want even tougher laws in place.
On January 25th, 2014, police believe Brittany Lewis ran a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 701 and Bucksport Road. Her car, carrying three other people, collided with an oncoming vehicle which was driven by Jackie Cohen.
Jackie Cohen and her boyfriend, Ryan Marsh, were killed during the crash. A third passenger was sent to the hospital in serious condition.
“I thought ‘I need to prepare myself to forgive this person who accidentally killed my child' but….that's not what we're dealing with,” expressed Sheryl Marsh, the mother of Ryan Marsh.
After losing their children, the mothers didn't think the pain could get any worse. However, the evidence uncovered during the investigation added to their grief.
“According to the police records, she [Lewis] said to her passenger ‘watch me run these M-Fers over, that was the last thing she said before she accelerated, veered into them, and killed them,” said Sheryl Marsh between tears.
The MAIT report given to the family shows in the seconds leading up to the crash, Brittany Lewis pushed the gas pedal down, accelerated to nearly 65 MPH and crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic.
“I couldn't understand…why are you in the other lane? If you stayed in your lane you would have missed my child,” said Lisa Fisher, the mother of Jackie Cohen.
The prosecutor, Laurie Richardson, said during police interviews the passengers in Lewis' vehicle told officers they begged her not to run the stop sign.
A toxicology report shows cocaine was present in Lewis' system during the crash, however, Lewis denies intentionally running the stop sign.
During Tuesday's hearing, Lewis told the judge that she was reaching down for her cell phone. Her defense attorney added because Lewis was under the influence, her reaction time could have been slower.
However, the judge expressed doubt, saying he was familiar with that intersection and believed the area to be straight and clear across.
Both families of Jackie Cohen and Ryan Marsh stood in front of the judge, asking him for stricter punishments. According to the prosecutor, Lewis had been released from jail one month prior to the deadly accident.
“It appears she has been in trouble with the law for most of her adult life….she has gotten slap on the wrist after slap on the wrist. It is frustrating to look at that and consider if she would have been held accountable for something she had done in the past, could it have somehow changed what we are dealing with now,” questioned Sheryl Marsh.
The judge decided to throw out the recommendation, and instead sentenced Brittany Lewis to the maximum of 25 years in prison.
During the hearing, it was determined before Lewis was incarcerated, her three children were not living with her.