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Drunk driving defendant says victim's injuries haunt him

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK -- An Edinburg man was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a vehicle collision that left the other driver with injuries that still prevent her from working.

Keegan Wolford, 23, received a total of six years in jail or prison on two charges: inflicting injury on someone as a result of drunk driving and drunk driving. All but one year of the jail time was suspended. Wolford will also serve three years on supervised probation and two years on unsupervised probation after he is released from jail.

Assistant commonwealth's attorney Ilona White and Judge Dennis L. Hupp agreed that Wolford could have received a much longer sentence, but the victim, Barbara Sisk, of Woodstock, did not want to testify at a trial, which had been scheduled for Wednesday.

"I would say she is a very generous and forgiving person," White said of Sisk in an interview after the hearing.

White, speaking at the hearing, said some technical issues "with how the state trooper handled the case" also contributed to the decision to accept a lighter sentence for Wolford than the maximum of five years he could have received for injuring someone as a result of drunk driving.

Wolford's car ran head on into Sisk's car on Patmos Road around 11:36 p.m. Nov. 29, 2012. White told Hupp that the accident was caused by Wolford's car crossing the centerline.

Sisk was airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital where she spent the next month and nearly died, White said. White listed Sisk's injuries as a broken neck, pelvis, leg, foot, and collarbone, and cracked ribs and punctured lung.

Sisk needed a wheelchair at first and now uses a cane to get around, White said, adding that Sisk still suffers from nerve damage in her foot, ankle and lower back that makes it hard for her to balance herself without a cane.

"She was gainfully employed before the crash," White said of Sisk. "Now she is unable to work."

White said she had evidence from a toxicologist that Wolford's blood alcohol level was .18 while he was being treated at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in the hours after the accident.

Wolford told Hupp that he was sorry for the accident and injuries to Sisk, which he described as a product of his "bad judgment."

"I am haunted by this act everyday," Wolford said, adding that he wished there was something he could do "to help make Ms. Sisk whole again."

Wolford said he is trying to finish a degree from Lord Fairfax Community College, but has found it hard to do so while working full time and coping with the psychological aftershock of the accident.

He said he would like to have a chance to tell other people his age about the tragic consequences his night of drunk driving brought to Sisk and him.

"Most young adults these days don't understand the seriousness of this type of behavior," Wolford told Hupp.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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