LANCASTER, Pa. — A Lancaster woman will serve at least four years in prison for her role in a deadly crash on Route 30 in West Hempfield Township last year, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
Renee S. Emerick, 25, pleaded guilty in June to homicide by vehicle while DUI, four counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, and other related offenses, according to prosecutors.
She admitted to being under the influence of marijuana when she caused a collision that killed a woman and injured four other people.
Lancaster County Judge Dennis E. Reinaker sentenced Emerick to a prison term of four to 15 years on Monday.
“This is a tragedy for both families, but you had a choice to make, Ms. Emerick, and you made the wrong one,” Reinaker said, before ordering the sentence. “There are tragic consequences for that.”
Emerick was driving a silver Chrysler 200 on Route 30 when she left her lane and crossed a grass median into oncoming westbound traffic on June 19, 2021. Her vehicle collided head-on at a high rate of speed with another vehicle—with the Chrysler showing no signs of braking.
The crash killed a mother who was traveling with her husband and three children. The vehicle's other four occupants were all injured in the crash, according to prosecutors.
Family members and one of the victims spoke at the sentencing hearing and were forgiving of Emerick, but also emphasized that she now has an opportunity to change her life.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Miller prosecuted the case and asked for the judge to give a sentence that would help deter this type of behavior.
“It shows a lack of understanding and the ongoing danger of this type of conduct,” Miller said. “I beg your honor to give the Commonwealth and all people who live in the Commonwealth a bit of safety and deterrence to this type of behavior. This is the worst thing that could happen if someone decides to smoke [marijuana] and drive.”
West Hempfield Township Police filed charges.