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Jeannette woman sentenced for DUI crash that injured man

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A Jeannette woman will serve up to 23 months in jail for crashing her car into a parked car and leaving a seriously injured man behind.

Westmoreland County prosecutors said Elaine Decker, 39, was drunk when her car slammed into the passenger side door of Edward Chick's car as he unloaded groceries in front of his Wylie Street home on Jan. 15, 2011.

Chick, 57, was crushed between the car and the car door by the impact of the crash, according to police.

In August, Decker pleaded no contest to five charges, including aggravated assault while driving drunk and reckless endangerment.

Police said Decker drove away after the crash and was later taken into custody after she was surrounded at the intersection of Route 30 and Lowery Avenue by a fire truck and another motorist.

Assistant District Attorney Allen Powanda said Decker's blood-alcohol level after the crash was 0.25 percent, three times the limit a motorist in Pennsylvania is considered intoxicated.

In court on Tuesday, Decker's lawyer, L.A. Smith, asked that his client be sentenced to house arrest and not a jail term.

Powanda, though, said that Decker's actions and her previous record of a drunk driving arrest in 2006 warranted jail time.

“He could have been killed,” Powanda said. “Ms. Decker doesn't seem to comprehend she's doing anything wrong,” Powanda said.

Annette Chick told Westmoreland County Judge Debra Pezze that her father sustained substantial permanent injuries in the crash. Edward Chick suffered head, leg and spine injuries and still suffers from physical and cognitive disabilities, she said.

“I ask today for justice,” Chick said. “Take another person off the street who decided to drink beyond the limit.”

Pezze sentenced Decker to serve at least nine months in jail and an additional year on probation once she is released from custody.

“It's foolish for you to think you don't have a serious problem with alcohol,” Pezze said.

Decker will begin serving her jail sentence on Jan. 7.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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