Accident victims voice their misery at sentencing

April 25, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

They sat in wheelchairs in the courtroom yesterday, the son to the right of his father - just the way they had stood on a snowy morning when a driver coming down from a drug-induced high slammed her car into them and ripped a leg off each.

Fourteen months later, the parents' livelihoods are gone, their savings will be gone by year's end, and they will be forced to sell their Pasadena home to pay their mounting bills.

Their once-active 12-year-old son feels that a criminal has stolen his childhood and replaced its good times with home schooling, physical therapy with his father and computer contact with friends from his old school.

"I hope you suffer for the rest of your life, but you won't suffer like my dad and I will," 12-year-old Tyler Dick said in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to the driver, Jody Hudson of Silver Spring.

Hudson pleaded guilty to two counts of causing life-threatening injuries while on drugs. A prison term for the maximum four years would have had the 38-year-old out of prison in less than two years. Instead, Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck followed Assistant State's Attorney Shelly S. Glenn's suggestion to suspend one year of prison so that he could add five years of supervised probation during which Hudson is to pay $150 a month to the Dick family.

"I am so sorry for all I have caused," Hudson sobbed before she was sentenced.

She said she wished her life had been taken instead.

"I ask God to forgive me, and I ask the family to one day find it in their hearts to forgive me," she said.

Hudson suffered leg injuries in the crash that require her to use a wheelchair much of the time, said her lawyer, assistant public defender Michele Cinque.

The accident occurred about 10 a.m. Feb. 16, 2006, when John Dick, who was on the way to buy a generator, blew a tire in his Chevrolet TrailBlazer. Tyler wanted to help change it.

On the wide shoulder of southbound Route 10 in Glen Burnie, Dick and his son were getting out the jack when a silver Honda Accord swerved toward them. Dick said he did not know what happened "until I saw body parts."

Glenn said investigators calculated that Hudson drove into the Dicks at 66 mph, and had not braked. Her 9-year-old son was riding in the car with her.

A blood test showed that Hudson had ingested cocaine in the hours before the crash, and investigators had found a crack pipe in her purse, Glenn said. Hudson, a drug user since age 14 who was trying to beat a heroin addiction, also had methadone in her system, a mix that depressed her central nervous system, Glenn said.

Tyler lost his left leg at the knee. He has had 16 operations to save his crushed right leg, with more to come.

"No one can imagine how I feel when my son pleads for his life to be over - `I don't want to live like this, Mommy. Look at me. I am tired of being in pain,'" Joan Dick said.

John Dick, a network engineer, lost half his right leg and suffered other injuries. He cannot work and does not know if he ever will because he cannot mentally focus. Joan Dick left her cafeteria job to take care of him and Tyler. Disability payments do not cover household expenses and other costs that insurance does not pay.

Dick said no sentence existed that would heal his family.

"In three years, what will we do? We will lose everything by then," Dick said. But, he said, "a hundred years wouldn't matter," given the devastating impact of the crash.

Tyler and his father rely on each other for encouragement during strenuous physical therapy.

"Together makes it easier," Dick said. "One of us can't break."

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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