FAYETTE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A Berry man who seriously injured a 17-year-old girl while driving drunk back in December has been sentenced to over 15 years in prison.
Wesley Aaron Studdard, 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault on May 11.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the victim was driving a 2007 Mazda on December 12, 2020 while traveling south on Alabama Highway 13 and was stopped waiting to pull into her driveway at 5 p.m. Studdard, who was driving a 2002 Toyota Tacoma at the time, crashed into the back of her car while traveling approximately 60 miles per hour, launching the car 195 feet across lanes of traffic. According to state troopers, a witness reported that Studdard left his truck and threw something in the grass along with a cooler, which contained both opened and unopened beer cans. The cooler was recovered at the scene.
Four hours after the crash, Studdard’s blood alcohol concentration registered at 0.14%. Prior to the crash, Studdard had been convicted of driving under the influence.
“Mr. Studdard’s decision to get behind the wheel while impaired nearly took this young lady’s life,” District Attorney Andy Hamlin said in a statement. “But for his decisions, this never would have happened.”
The victim was subsequently airlifted to UAB Hospital and treated for serious injuries to her head, face, neck, chest, lungs and extremities. She continues to recover from the injuries she sustained.
“This young lady is a fighter. She’s one tough cookie,” Hamlin said. “She has an incredible will to live and such a positive outlook on life. I don’t know that she would have survived without that spirit and the family support that she has.”
Studdard will soon be transported from the Fayette County Jail to the Alabama Department of Corrections. Due to the length of the sentence, he will not be eligible for early release due to good behavior while serving his sentence.