A local grandmother faces 20 years in prison for a Missouri drunk driving car accident that killed her own granddaughter in 2011.
Theresa Fortner, a 49-year-old woman from Arnold, was found guilty of driving drunk and causing a fatal crash in south St. Louis.
The accident took place on July 4, 2011 shortly after 9 a.m. Fortner was driving northbound along Interstate 55 and had just taken the exit for Loughborough Avenue when she lost control of the vehicle.
She ran into a traffic sign, a tree, and a fence before flipping over and crashing to a stop at a house in the 7100 block of Idaho.
Both Fortner, who was 47 at the time, and her 20-month-old granddaughter, Bella Houston, were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Houston died the following day from her injuries, which included a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain.
Fortner was found to be drunk at the time of the accident. Her blood-alcohol level was .22, twice the legal limit.
In addition, her senses were so dulled that she did not even attempt to stop. The vehicle's “black box” showed that the brakes were not used and that Fortner was traveling 69 miles per hour when the accident occurred. A witness noted that the driver's side wheels were not touching the ground because the vehicle was going so fast.
According to the prosecution's allegations, at least one family member implored Fortner not to get behind the wheel while drunk. She did so anyway, with drastic consequences.
A judge declared Fortner guilty earlier this spring. She is expected to be sentenced next month on three counts: second-degree murder, child endangerment, and armed criminal action. She faces up to 20 years in prison for the fatal Missouri car crash.
We continue to send well wishes to the family of the baby girl who lost her life.