An Orlando woman is headed to prison for 10 years for causing a crash on Interstate 95 that seriously injured a New Hampshire couple.
Circuit Judge Howard Maltz sentenced 24-year-old Maribelle Ilarraza Monday afternoon in his St. Johns County courtroom.
A jury found Ilarraza guilty in May of two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury for causing the Feb. 7, 2015, wreck that injured Patrick and Lisa Foley.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the Florida Highway Patrol, Ilarraza was driving northbound on I-95 in St. Johns County in a Ford Focus when she crashed into the back of another Focus driven by Lisa Foley.
The impact of the collision pushed Foley’s vehicle out of the center lane and into the median guardrail. The car bounced off the guardrail and back into the roadway, where it was struck by another vehicle, according to the FHP report.
In the wreck, passenger Patrick Foley suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for three weeks. He spent a month in intensive care at UF Health Jacksonville and another month in Brooks Rehabilitation before he was taken home to New Hampshire to continue rehabilitation. Lisa Foley suffered a broken neck, ribs and orbital bone. She also suffered a dissected aorta, among other injuries listed in court on Monday.
The FHP report says Ilarraza admitted to having one drink of vodka early that morning and had smoked marijuana the previous evening. She said she had not been to sleep since the previous morning.
A toxicology report showed Ilarraza had a blood alcohol level of 0.116, more than the legal limit of 0.08.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing Assistant State Attorney Kaitlyn Mairs pointed out that the blood drawn for that report took place about three hours after the wreck and reminded Maltz that testimony at trial suggested her blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was likely between 0.15 and 0.2.
Ilarraza’s toxicology report also indicated she had marijuana in her system.
Her attorney, Matthew Leibert, asked Maltz to consider sentencing Ilarraza to house arrest so she could live with her mother rent-free, work, and pay restitution to the Foleys.
“She can’t pay them anything in prison,” he said.
But an attorney for the couple, who spoke prior to Maltz imposing sentence, said that what the Foleys had lost in wages and can expect to spend in care for Patrick Foley, who, because of his brain injury will be forced to live in a care facility, will total in the millions of dollars.
Mairs characterized the amount as “astronomical” and told Maltz that prison time was the only thing that could bring justice to the couple.
“The likelihood of it ever being paid back is slim to none,” she said before asking Maltz to consider the maximum sentence allowed.
The Foley’s two daughters, Mairs said, had been forced to go through recent graduations “without their father because their father can’t even recognize who they are on a daily basis.”
Before handing down the sentence requested by the state by imposing consecutive five-year sentences for each of the two counts, Maltz called Ilarraza’s decison to drive while impaired “selfish.”
“You have ruined the lives of two people who were in their middle ages and should have been enjoying life,” Maltz said. “And for the rest of their lives will be suffereing greatly.”
Maltz also revoked the woman’s driver’s license for life.