Woman who had seizure before crash that killed 2 teens in Pennsylvania will avoid jail

Debora Carley

A Pennsylvania woman who suffered a seizure prior to a crash that killed two Pennsylvania high school students will not go to jail, according to media reports. Debra Slaymaker-Walker, 64, initially faced 15 charges, including two counts of criminal homicide, according to WGAL. As part of a plea deal Tuesday, […]

A Pennsylvania woman who suffered a seizure prior to a crash that killed two Pennsylvania high school students will not go to jail, according to media reports.

Debra Slaymaker-Walker, 64, initially faced 15 charges, including two counts of criminal homicide, according to WGAL. As part of a plea deal Tuesday, she pleaded no contest to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of recklessly endangering an individual, WGAL reported.

She will serve 10 years probation as a part of her plea deal, according to WPMT.

Parents of 16-year-old Jack Nicholson and 17-year-old Meghan Keeney, the Warwick High School students killed in the 2018 crash, did not agree with the sentencing.

Donna Nicholson Stief, Jack Nicholson’s mother, called the plea agreement “ridiculous,” Lancaster Online reported.

“Make no mistake, we do not agree that this was an accident,” she said, according to the online publication.

Rob Keeney, Meghan Keeney’s father, said in court Tuesday he does not feel Slaymaker-Walker has any remorse, according to Lancaster Online. Slaymaker-Walker said in court Tuesday she “was and still am horrified by this accident.”

Attorneys for Slaymaker-Walker unsuccessfully tried earlier this year to get all charges against her dismissed, claiming she was not in control of her actions because of a seizure she suffered, according to WHTM.

She has a history of seizures and attorneys claimed “she was not aware of, nor in control, of her actions” during the fatal crash, WHTM reported.

But Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said that Slaymaker-Walker drove with “sustained recklessness” in the 2018 crash where she struck six vehicles in total, PennLive.com reported.

The 2018 crash killed 17-year-old Meghan Keeney, left, and 16-year-old Jack Nicholson, right.
The 2018 crash killed 17-year-old Meghan Keeney, left, and 16-year-old Jack Nicholson, right.

Slaymaker-Walker was driving 73 to 77 mph in a 25 mph school zone leading up to the crash, Stedman said, according to PennLive. Police said they tried to stop her, but when she accelerated the officers stopped their pursuit, WHTM reported.

A witness, Dave Gerhart, said Slaymaker-Walker “just accelerated and kind of took off” when police attempted to stop her, according to WHTM.

When Slaymaker-Walker struck the Chevrolet Sonic carrying Jack Nicholson and Meghan Keeney near the school after dismissal, their vehicle was pushed into oncoming traffic and hit by an SUV, WGAL reported. A third person in the Chevrolet Sonic also suffered serious injuries.

Slaymaker-Walker’s vehicle overturned and she also suffered injuries, according to WPMT. She has been on house arrest since her 2018 arrest, according to WGAL.

The district attorney’s office received information related to Slaymaker-Walker’s medical condition that led them to reevaluate the charges, WPMT reported.

“Therefore, her degree of criminal responsibility is greatly affected,” the DA’s office said. “Our office weighed that medical information with the actions before, during and after the crash, as well as evidence gathered in the initial investigation, to develop an appropriate prosecutorial course.”

In addition to 10 years probation, Slaymaker-Walker will not be able to drive during that time and must pay more than $30,000 in restitution, according to WGAL.

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