Crime

Drunken driver who hurt elderly couple gets probation after she admits she is an alcoholic

A Clovis woman on her way to work at Table Mountain Casino on Sept. 28, 2016 caused a drunken-driving crash on Millerton Road that seriously injured an elderly couple – who were on their way home after spending time at the casino.
A Clovis woman on her way to work at Table Mountain Casino on Sept. 28, 2016 caused a drunken-driving crash on Millerton Road that seriously injured an elderly couple – who were on their way home after spending time at the casino. Fresno Bee file

A Clovis woman who admitted to causing a drunken-driving collision that seriously injured an elderly couple was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation.

Brittany Anne Allan, 28, apologized to the victims, Esteban and Helen Barajas, who attended Allan’s sentencing hearing in Fresno County Superior Court.

The crash happened just before midnight on Sept. 28, 2016, on Millerton Road near Table Mountain Casino, the California Highway Patrol said.

Allan was headed to work at the casino with a .32 blood-alcohol in her body, or four times the legal limit to drive, court records says. The victims were headed to their home in Fresno after spending time at the casino.

Court records say Allan was driving 50 to 60 mph when she lost control on a curve and drove head-on into the victims’ van. Esteban Barajas, 80, was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center with several broken bones. Helen Barajas, 71, also suffered serious injuries. Allan broke her pelvis.

On Tuesday, Fresno attorney Sam Salhab, who defended Allan, told Judge James Kelley that when a CHP officer confronted Allan after the collision, she said: “I did it. I was drinking. I’m an alcoholic.”

Salhab said that since the crash, Allan has taken steps to fight her alcoholism, checking into an inpatient treatment program and going to daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“It’s not an excuse for what happened,” Salhab said. “But it shows she is trying to deal with her problem.”

Allan said she doesn’t remember what happened. “That’s not a denial,” she said. “I take full responsibility.”

She also told the victims that they should be mad at her. “I know I would be mad if it was the other way around,” she told them. “But I hope you know that I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart.”

On Dec. 9, Allan pleaded no contest to two felony counts of drunken driving causing great bodily injury, which constituted two strikes under the Three Strikes repeat offender law. Because prosecutor John Tully offered Allan no plea deal, she faced up to seven years in prison.

Kelley said he sentenced Allan to probation because she admitted responsibility early and was taking steps to stay sober. The judge also noted that Allan had no prior criminal history.

But the judge told Allan if she drinks and drives again and kills someone, she would face a murder charge.

In announcing the sentence, Kelley ordered Allan to finish her inpatient treatment program, stay away from alcohol, suspended her driver’s license, and ordered her to pay restitution to the victims.

“I don’t think she chose to hurt anyone,” the judge said. “It’s too bad she didn’t do it (treatment program) earlier.”

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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