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Tampa 18-year-old charged in fatal November crash

TAMPA — Charlotte Sowards was charged Thursday with DUI manslaughter in connection with a November crash that killed a 31-year-old man and seriously injured his passengers.

Police say that Sowards, 18, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.074 percent six hours after the crash. State law presumes impairment at 0.08 percent. She ran two stop signs at a high speed before broadsiding a car and killing its driver, Jason Plummer, Tampa police said.

Sowards of Tampa turned herself in Friday afternoon on a warrant. The Nov. 20 crash occurred at the intersection of Wood Street and El Portal Drive.

Police say Sowards' arrest came more than four months after the crash because investigators had been waiting for blood test results.

In addition to driving-under-the-influence manslaughter, police also charged her with vehicular homicide, three counts of DUI with serious bodily injury, three counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and DUI with property damage or personal injury.

Plummer died instantly at the scene, police said. Passengers Jean Flores, 18, Alexandra Ceballos, 17, and Anthony Adams, 23, all of Tampa, suffered significant injuries.

Ceballos, 16, spent nearly two weeks in a hospital with a broken pelvis and cut spleen, said her mother, Dawn Wallace.

Wallace was surprised by the news of Sowards' arrest, saying she believes a long prison sentence isn't the right punishment for the teen.

"When you're young, you make stupid decisions," Wallace said. "She should be made to go to high schools and tell others what happened to her and about the families she affected."

Her daughter is back in high school, struggling with intermittent vision loss in one eye and dealing with rising medical bills since she lost health insurance on Feb. 13. Still, Wallace doesn't have any ill will toward Sowards.

"I really hope that she does not get the maximum sentence because she's so young," Wallace said. "I hope she learned a lesson."

Tampa 18-year-old charged in fatal November crash 05/06/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 10:07pm]
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