Jane Berghold, the 76-year-old breast cancer patient who crashed her car into a Brockton Hospital earlier this week, has been charged with motor vehicle homicide. Dr. Mark Vasa, the head of radiation therapy, and Susan Plante, a hospital worker, died in the crash. Two other people were injured.
The Plymouth DA’s Office is charging Berghold, a Rockland, Massachusetts resident, with two counts of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and one count of operating to endanger. Her license has also been revoked indefinitely.
Berghold says that she tried to stop the car by stepping on the brakes. Brockton police and Massachusetts police are both investigating the accident to determine if the brakes or anything else on the 1991 Oldsmobile was experiencing mechanical problems or was defective. They are also looking into whether Berghold was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the accident occurred.
In Massachusetts, there are three types of motor vehicle homicide offenses that a person can be convicted for. Felony motor vehicle homicide occurs when a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs is operating to endanger and another person is killed in a motor vehicle crash because of this.
Misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide occurs when a driver is drunk driving and another person dies as a result or when a person driving carelessly or negligently (operating to endanger) causes a fatal motor vehicle crash.
A criminal defendant convicted of misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide can face up to two and a half years in prison and/or be ordered to pay a fine as high as $3,000. A driver convicted of felony motor vehicle homicide can be ordered to spend up to fifteen years in prison and pay a fine as high as $5,000.
Vehicular homicide is a serious offense. Even if you did not mean to cause the fatal accident and would never voluntarily commit any kind of crime, you could be convicted and sent to prison because other people died in a motor vehicle crash that is considered you fault.
Driver in hospital crash charged in deaths, Boston.com, October 19, 2007
Related Web Resource:
A Brief Overview of Massachusetts Homicide Law, Norfolk District Attorney’s Office
Elderly Woman Drives Car Into Hospital, Killing Doctor, Secretary, Foxnews.com, October 16, 2007
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