A Goode man will spend five years in prison for accidentally killing a woman in an April 2019 crash while high on methamphetamine.
Lewis Dane Arthur, 38, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license in May after pleading no contest to his charges.
He was driving north on Virginia 122 close to the town of Bedford just after 9 a.m. April 6, 2019, when he crossed the double yellow center line and hit Helen Ramsey Parker’s car head on, according to law enforcement. Parker, a 74-year-old woman from Roanoke who was delivering food to her parents in Monroe, died at the scene.
Arthur wasn’t making sense at the scene of the crash or at the hospital, where he was taken with injuries he sustained. Prosecutor John Wheelock said Arthur told investigators at different points he thought he was riding a bike, having an argument with his dead father and playing a video game.
Blood analyses found that Arthur had THC and an “astronomical” amount of meth in his system at the time, Wheelock said at a sentencing hearing Oct. 6.
Parker’s loved ones spoke passionately about her at Bedford County Circuit Court. Her husband, Buddy Parker, said he’d known her to be a charitable and wonderful individual in the 32 years they’d been together.
“She was my right hand; she was my best friend,” he said. “… That was a loss I’ll never get over — never.”
Helen Parker’s daughter characterized her as a “fun-loving, happy person” and asked Judge James Updike to sentence Arthur in accordance with the devastation felt by her family.
R. Andrew Davis, Arthur’s attorney, had a psychologist and his client’s probation officer speak from the stand about his issues with addiction, mental health issues and family tragedies. According to their testimony, he’s had substance abuse disorders involving alcohol, meth and marijuana as well as depression and anxiety.
Arthur apologized to Parker’s family members before being sentenced.
“I wish I could take that day back,” he said. “… I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”
Updike remarked on the balancing act required in vehicular manslaughter cases: an accident from criminal negligence on one hand and the death of a person on the other.
He honored Parker’s family’s request to impose a harsher sentence than guidelines drawn up for him recommended, referencing the fact that this is Arthur’s fifth DUI conviction and noting that guidelines for vehicular manslaughter cases tend to be “insufficient.”
Updike sentenced Arthur to a total of five years in prison, after which he’ll be on supervised probation for five years. During that time, he’ll be forbidden from consuming alcohol or drugs, will undergo evaluations for substance abuse and mental health issues and will need to follow all treatment recommendations.