By Jerry Salley  

MAY 18, 2012 8:45 a.m. Comments (0)

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A Berea woman will spend 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a Department of Transportation worker last April while driving under the influence of numerous prescription drugs.

At a court hearing in Greenville May 14, Misty Dawn Dawson, 30, pled guilty to felony DUI resulting in death.

Taylors resident Noah Lark, 60, was working on Laurens Road near the I-85 overpass when the accident occurred on April 6, 2011. An EMT crew took Lark to Greenville Memorial Hospital, where he died later that day.

In court, Dawson apologized to Lark’s family. “I hope that someday they will forgive me,” she said.

Dawson had been in the Greenville County Detention Center for nearly a year; after being released on bail after the April accident, she received a second DUI charge on May 31, 2011, revoking her bond.

Assistant Solicitor Sara Lee Drawdy said that after the accident in April, a drug test found several medications, including oxycodone, Lortab, Xanax, Klonapin, Ambien and Zoloft, in Dawson’s system.

Dawson’s attorney, Caroline Horlbeck, stressed that there were no illegal substances found in her client’s system, and that this was Dawson’s first offense. She said Dawson was taking the medication for recurring migraines and gastrointestinal pain, and was also dealing with the stress of caring for her ailing father, now deceased, and her two children, now ages 3 and 9.

She had left her job as a help-desk supervisor at the Bi-Lo corporate offices on the morning of April 6, feeling ill, when her burgundy Ford Explorer “plowed into” the back of a DOT truck, according to Drawdy. Dawson showed no signs of braking before the wreck, Drawdy said. Authorities said that Dawson’s speech was slurred and she was having difficulty keeping her eyes open.

Before Judge Robin Stillwell pronounced the sentence, family and friends in the courtroom spoke on behalf of both the victim and the accused.

“I do not hate her,” said Lark’s daughter, Christi Mills, at the hearing. “I hate the decisions that she made when she got behind the wheel.”

Family friend Dante Thompson remembered Lark as a youth minister who led boys on turkey-shooting expeditions. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him,” he said. “I’m a better man because of him.”

Dawson wiped away tears while both families spoke.

“She would have never done this intentionally,” said Dawson’s mother, Ellen Dawson, who remembered her daughter as a “wonderful child.”

After expressing condolences to both families, Stilwell sentenced Dawson to 18 years’ imprisonment, suspended to 11 years followed by 5 years of probation.

“You made a decision that day that had a profound impact on people who didn’t deserve what happened to them,” the judge told Dawson.


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