ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Six years after a devastating crash that ended with motorcyclists losing limbs and the driver’s daughter losing her life, the driver of the car, Maryann O’Quinn, learned she will spend just 10 months in jail.
It was an emotional day in virtual court on Tuesday for both the victims and the defendant. Judge Brett Loveless also acknowledged during the sentencing the heartbreaking and tragic nature of the 2016 crash.
“The day of the crash, we went from celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary surrounded by friends to saying goodbyes to each other in a ditch,” said Lauren Wallaert, one of the victims of the crash. She and her husband read a victim statement during the sentencing.
Jeremy and Lauren Wallaert shared how their lives changed forever since the crash on August 6, 2016. The couple and their friends were riding motorcycles, on their way to Cochiti Lake to celebrate the couple’s five-year wedding anniversary when Maryann O’Quinn was driving 88 mph in a 55 mph zone. O’Quinn veered into oncoming traffic hitting the group of motorcyclists. The couple recounted the horrifying scene.
“We are told our bodies flew as high as the telephone lines into the ditch on the opposite side of the road,” said Jeremy.
“There were motorcycles and parts scattered across the road and ditch, and bones and blood lying in the road and my foot being kept cold on ice.” said Lauren. The Wallaerts both lost limbs and now live with prosthetics. O’Quinn’s own teenage daughter also died in the crash. Reports indicate the teenager was buckled, and that O’Quinn was not on her phone or intoxicated.
Earlier this year, O’Quinn pled guilty to one count of reckless driving and four counts of aggravated battery, all misdemeanors. After a motion by the defense to merge the aggravated battery charges, Judge Loveless vacated the reckless driving charge in court on Tuesday.
“Maybe one day the Wallaerts can forgive me. But until then, I’m so sorry this has happened to you,” said O’Quinn on Tuesday. “I understand why you guys are angry and I know that you guys probably hate me and I understand why. I don’t blame you. But, I am sorry for everything that’s happened to everyone in this.”
Her attorney wanted leniency, arguing she has no prior criminal history, has complied with all pretrial services, and has to live with what she did to her daughter. “She’s received one of the greatest punishments any parent could go through, also; and that is the loss of the child. The loss of a child that was in your car,” said Leonard Foster, attorney for O’Quinn.
The Wallaerts highlighted what the last six years have been like, including expensive and painful medical challenges, missing key moments in their children’s lives, relying on their kids for simple household chores, and PTSD.
“Every time my husband or children leave, I spend the entire time wondering if they will be killed in a car crash,” said Lauren. Judge Loveless sentenced O’Quinn to 10 months in jail.
“There’s nothing I do in fashioning a sentence or any punishment that Miss O’Quinn serves that will in any way, shape, or make up for the harm the Wallaerts certainly have experienced. You folks didn’t deserve this and it’s awful to hear about it and I’m incredibly sorry,” said the judge.