More than a year after the accident that killed Allison Bell Campbell in 2012, 18-year-old McKenzie Farrow Crowe took a plea deal on charges of vehicular homicide, failure to maintain lane and DUI.
Crowe was scheduled to go to trial this week but instead took a plea deal and was sentenced by Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton to 15 years in jail. Crowe is required to serve three of those years behind bars before being released and then to serve another year with an ankle monitor. She was also ordered to speak at schools to tell other teens about the dangers of drinking and driving, according to the Newton County District Attorney’s Office.
Charges against the teen stem from the January 2012 accident in which Crowe was reportedly driving on Cook Road in a 2003 Ford Ranger when she crossed the center line and hit Campbell’s vehicle head-on. Crowe was airlifted to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, where she was treated and released.
According to an earlier story, retired Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said that "alcohol was suspected and blood was drawn from Ms. Crowe for analysis." According to the accident report from the GSP, Crowe was trapped and had to be extricated from the vehicle. Her listed condition at the time of the crash was "under the influence of medication/drugs/alcohol." The report stated that Campbell did not have a valid license and was not wearing a seatbelt. She was partially ejected from her vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene.
In May, Crowe turned herself in to the Newton County Jail and bonded out shortly thereafter. During a motion status hearing in February of this year, EMS workers, deputies and Georgia State Patrol troopers testified that when they arrived at the wreck Crowe was emotional, screaming and terrified that her parents would be disappointed in her.
Prosecutor Melanie Bell said that Crowe came in Monday and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide first degree, DUI (under 21) and failure to maintain lane. After the plea was entered, family members of Campbell gave victim impact statements about what the loss of Campbell has meant to her spouse, siblings, children and grandchildren. Her two sisters, one of her brothers, and one of her daughters spoke on behalf of the family.
Bell said the court then heard from a gymnastics instructor and a pastor of Crowe’s. Her father, Matt Crowe, gave a statement in which he apologized to Campbell’s family and told Judge Benton about his daughter. Finally, McKenzie Crowe turned and faced the victim’s family to speak. She accepted responsibility for her actions and apologized for the pain she has caused the family.
According to Bell, defense attorneys asked the judge to sentence Crowe to five years on probation, with the first 120 days to be served in a probation detention center. The state asked for 15 years on probation with the first five years in prison. After hearing from both sides, Benton sentenced Crowe to 15 years, with the first three years to be served in prison. She has to serve an additional year on house arrest/ankle monitor upon her release. Additionally, she will pay a $1,000 fine, complete 240 hours of community service and will be required to speak annually to local high school students about the incident and her experience.
"There are no winners in a tragedy like this," said Bell. "I was glad to see Ms. Crowe accept responsibility for her actions, and I hope this will help the family find closure as they continue to grieve the loss of Ms. Campbell. Every time a person gets behind the wheel of car while under the influence, they risk their own safety as well as the safety of other innocent drivers on the roads.
"I hope that Ms. Crowe will embrace the opportunity to reach out to other young people so that they can truly understand the dangers of drinking and driving."