ELLSWORTH, Maine — After having lost an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, a Gouldsboro woman has begun serving her prison sentence for causing an accident that severely injured a Sullivan teenage girl four years ago.
On Dec. 1, the Law Court upheld a decision by Hancock County Superior Court Justice William Brodrick to sentence Bonny Jo Shay, 48, to 18 months behind bars. Shay, who was convicted in a 2007 bench trial of aggravated assault, reckless conduct and driving to endanger, began serving her prison sentence Dec. 9.
Shay was driving a 2004 Pontiac Vibe west on Route 1 in Sullivan on the morning of Oct. 13, 2005, when she pulled into the opposite lane of traffic in a no-passing zone so she could pass another car as she was going up a hill. On the other side of that hill, headed straight toward Shay in the same lane of traffic, was Shaye Sumner, a senior at Sumner Memorial High School, who was driving to school.
Near the top of the hill, Shay’s Pontiac collided head-on with Sumner’s 1990 Acura Integra, police said at the time. Sumner was severely injured and was confined to a wheelchair as she recovered from her injuries. Her legs, a shoulder, a hand and her jaw were broken in the head-on collision.
On denying the appeal, the Law Court reaffirmed the sentence imposed by Brodrick of three years with all but 18 months suspended. Shay, who suffered less serious injuries in the accident than Sumner, also will have to serve three years of probation upon her release and pay a $2,000 fine.
Shay was not under the influence of intoxicants at the time of the accident, nor was she excessively breaking the 45-mph speed limit, according to police.
At Shay’s 2007 sentencing, Justice Brodrick pointed out that Shay was not late for an appointment or facing any other type of urgent situation.
“Ms. Shay consciously gambled with somebody else’s life,” the judge said at the time. “And that chance left a young person’s life severely impacted.”
Sumner’s classmates at Sumner Memorial High School built a wheelchair ramp for the girl, who was 17 at the time, at her home in the weeks after the accident. A former cheerleader, Sumner was confined to a wheelchair for months and had to have multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy after being injured in the collision.