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Alleged drunken driver who injured five people found not fit for trial

by Steven Mross | May 23, 2020 at 4:35 a.m.

An allegedly intoxicated woman who drove her car into a group of people in the parking lot of her apartment complex last year, injuring five, was found not fit to proceed with trial during a hearing Monday in Garland County Circuit Court.

Louise Young, 73, who lists no prior criminal history, was initially arrested the day of the incident on May 13, 2019, at the apartment complex at 601 Higdon Ferry, and charged with a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, first offense, and issued citations for careless and prohibited driving, having an expired license and no insurance. She was later released on a $1,000 bond.

After further investigation by Hot Springs police, on June 20 Young was charged with two felony counts of second-degree battery, punishable by up to six years in prison, and three misdemeanor counts of third-degree battery, punishable by up to one year in jail. She was later released on an $8,000 bond.

The charges were bound over to circuit court on Aug. 16, 2019, and Young entered a plea of not guilty on Sept. 23, 2019. The case was set for trial on March 4, but on Feb. 24, her court-appointed attorney, Public Defender Tim Beckham, filed a motion for a mental evaluation noting he had "good cause" to believe she was not fit to proceed.

An order for a mental evaluation was issued the next day by Judge John Homer Wright and all further proceedings were suspended. On March 10, Young was evaluated by Dr. Rachel Fazio with Ouachita Behavioral Health and Wellness.

On Monday, Wright issued an order that based on Fazio's evaluation it was determined Young "lacks the fitness to proceed at this time" and Young was to be committed to the custody of the director of the Department of Human Services for "detention, care and treatment until restoration of fitness to proceed."

Beckham told The Sentinel-Record Thursday he couldn't comment on Young's "medical issue" but noted she would be receiving treatment "due to her being found unfit to proceed."

A review hearing is now set for Nov. 9 at which time DHS will report if she has regained her fitness to proceed or if her mental disease or defect "is of a nature precluding restoration of fitness to proceed" and if she is a danger to herself or others.

According to the probable cause affidavit, on May 13, shortly before 5:30 p.m., police were dispatched to 601 Higdon Ferry near Building K regarding an injury wreck involving a vehicle hitting multiple pedestrians.

Officer Tyree Sampson reportedly saw three people on the ground who appeared to be suffering injuries as the result of a collision. One woman, identified as Ruth Harris, 61, had "a lot of blood coming from her backside area," he noted, and it was soon determined there were a total of five victims involved in the incident.

Sampson was told by several witnesses that a woman, later identified as Young, was the driver of a gray 2008 Chrysler Sebring involved in the incident. Sampson made contact with Young and she allegedly admitted to being the driver.

Young stated she had pulled under the carport area and "got confused and pressed the gas instead of the brakes." Young allegedly hit five people with her car, including Harris, a 1-year-old baby, Willie Early, 64, Carl Young, 61, and Bridget Poland, 43, who were all sitting between the apartment complex and the carport.

While speaking to Young, Sampson noted he could smell a strong odor of intoxicants on her person and asked her if she had anything to drink. Young reportedly said, "I had two to three shots of vodka." Young submitted to field sobriety tests and reportedly failed all three. After attempting the second test, Young allegedly told Sampson, "Take me to jail."

Young was taken to the Garland County Detention Center where a Breathalyzer test was administered and she allegedly provided one sample that registered 0.22% blood alcohol content, almost three times the legal limit.

She reportedly provided insufficient samples after that and as a result was taken to a hospital to have blood drawn and the samples were then submitted to the Arkansas Department of Health for analysis.

Throughout the booking process, Young allegedly admitted to colliding into Harris and inquired about her condition.

All five victims were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Carl Young was diagnosed with a possible concussion and chest contusions, Poland suffered an injury to her left foot and lower back, and Early sustained a "road rash" type injury to his left leg. Harris and the 1-year-old were initially taken to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs and then airlifted to a hospital in Little Rock in critical and serious condition, respectively.

On Friday, Garland County Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Lawrence provided updates on the conditions of the victims.

The 1-year-old, now 2, has "completely healed and is back to being a normal active child," according to his mother.

Carl Young said he's doing well, noting he "walks slow but is overall in good health."

Early could not be reached for comment about his condition, but was reportedly compensated for his medical expenses.

Harris and Poland could not be reached for comment, but both had previously come by the victim/witness coordinator's office to drop off copies of their medical bills.

Local on 05/23/2020

Print Headline: Alleged drunken driver who injured five people found not fit for trial


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