Man sentenced in drunk driving case

A judge in Gilmer last Thursday sentenced a man to prison terms when the defendant pleaded guilty to intoxication assault in connection with a traffic crash which injured relatives of Upshur County Commissioner Michael Ashley, and resulted in his grandchild being prematurely born.
Rodney Dean Seahorn, 48, of White Oak, was sentenced by 115th District Judge Dean Fowler on a plea bargain to three 8-year prison terms, two of them concurrrent, announced Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd.
The April 5 crash injured Ashley’s pregnant daughter, son-in-law, and resulted in the premature birth of the couple’s daughter that day. All were hospitalized, but survived.
Ashley said at the time that Seahorn was also injured and hospitalized. The commissioner provided these added details:
His daughter, Laura Craft, turned 35 that day and was eight months pregnant when the vehicle she and her husband occupied collided with another vehicle “more or less head-on” at the intersection of Texas 300 and FM 1844 in East Mountain.
The baby, Alora Jane Craft, was born that day at Longview Regional Medical Center and was in the neonatal intensive care unit there.
Her mother, admitted to the same hospital, suffered a fractured foot, broken shoulder, and fractured femur, while her husband, 27-year-old Duncan Craft, was in Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport Academic Medical Center in Louisana with two broken femurs.
The Crafts, who reside in Gilmer, had just left a birthday celebration at the home of the commissioner and his wife, Reggenia, and were en route to Longview for another celebration planned with her cousins and two brothers when the wreck occurred. They were in a Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle.
In a news release on the sentencing, Byrd said Seahorn left a residence in White Oak, traveled north toward Gilmer, and “entered the intersection illegally and in the wrong lane of traffic.” Laura Craft (who, like her husband and child, was not identified by name in the news release) was seven and a half months pregnant, said Byrd.
“The victims had to be cut from their vehicle and their bodies were crushed. the baby had to be surgically removed” and was in the neonatal ICU “a long period of time,” Byrd wrote.
Fowler found that a deadly weapon was used in the injuries to the mother and child, and ordered those sentences run concurrently, but the term for injuring the father was “stacked” on them because his injuries were more serious, Byrd said.
Maximum term for the offense is 10 years and Seahorn, who had no prior convictions except misdemeanors, would have been eligible for probation from a jury, the prosecutor said.
“This stands as a reminder during this holiday season, with gatherings and parties, that driving while intoxicated is a 100% preventable crime,” Byrd wrote. “Lives are tragically altered at the selfish actions of drunk drivers. These crimes are senseless and destroy many innocent people like the victims in this case.
“The child and her parents will always have wounds and scars that remind them forever of the defendant and his actions. Thankfully, they are alive and healing.”
The Crofts attended the sentencing and gave victim impact statements, said Byrd., who reprsented the state. Gilmer attorney Brandon Winn represented Seahorn.

– By Phillip Williams




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