Woman jailed in injury wreck

Desirea C. Casey had been drinking when she crashed her car in March, injuring two others.

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WALLA WALLA -- A woman was sentenced Monday in Superior Court to three months in jail for causing a wreck in March that seriously injured two people.

Desirea C. Casey, 22, of 213 W. Maple St., was ordered to serve the time in the County Jail by Judge Donald Schacht. She had pleaded guilty earlier to one count of vehicular assault.

The standard-range penalty for the crime is three to nine months in jail. At the sentencing, Schacht refused to convert the jail term to time on the work crew due to the severity of the accident.

"This could have had many more tragic consequences," he told Casey. He also ordered Casey to serve 12 months of community supervision, a form of probation, and pay $2,721.80 in fines and court costs with restitution to be determined later.

Casey pleaded guilty Nov. 23. She admitted driving in a reckless manner with disregard for the safety of others when the collision with a semi-truck occurred March 14 on U.S. Highway 12 at Hussey Road.

Officials said Casey -- who had been drinking beer -- was driving a 2003 Honda Accord north on Hussey about 12:04 a.m., traveling approximately 70 mph in the 30-mph zone.

She failed to stop for the stop sign at the highway, tried to turn right to head east, but turned wide into the westbound lane, according to authorities. There, the vehicle collided with the oncoming 1996 Freightliner truck driven by David S. Irwin, 51, of Rocklin, Calif.

Casey's blood-alcohol level reportedly was 0.16, twice the legal limit.

Both of Casey's passengers -- Cortny A. Ponticelli, 21, of Milton-Freewater, and Heather L. Mercado, 19, of Walla Walla -- suffered multiple injuries. Ponticelli was hospitalized at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. Mercado was airlifted to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital in Spokane for treatment of "severe facial fractures including damage to the socket of her left eye" causing double vision, according to a State Patrol report filed in court.

Casey was treated and released at St. Mary.

A second count of vehicular assault initially filed against her was dismissed in exchange for her guilty plea, which related to injuries suffered by Ponticelli.

U-B reporter Andy Porter contributed to this report. Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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