Suicidal teenage driver avoids jail time for 2010 criminal car crash
At 17 years old, a Cheltenham teenager made a decision to end her life. Aiysha Lee’s boyfriend broke up with her at the mall on October 27th, 2010. The break up, coupled with a history of long-term depression, an eating disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder from abuse as a child, caused Ms. Lee to decide attempt to take her own life in what would become a criminal car crash.
At 7:30 p.m. on October 27th, Aiysha Lee, with her boyfriend in her car, drove her vehicle over a double yellow line into oncoming traffic, hitting another vehicle in the criminal car crash. Her suicide attempt was unsuccessful. When police arrived at the criminal car crash scene, Aiysha Lee was virtually unscathed. She was found hysterically crying outside her car repeatedly stating “I just tried to kill myself. I caused the accident on purpose because I wanted to kill myself.” according to the criminal car crash complaint.
Not all involved in the car accident were as lucky as Ms. Lee. Aiysha Lee’s car hit one other vehicle, occupied by a family of three. Edward Sullivan Jr., who along with his mother, Marianne, and father, Edward Sr., suffered injuries in the criminal car crash, and testified of the horrific impact and the devastating challenges his family has faced since the crash. “There was really nowhere to go,” Sullivan, who was driving with his parents as passengers, recalled of the head-on collision. He added that his father and mother were pinned inside the vehicle and the right side of his mother’s body was crushed. “It’s something I try to forget.”
Sullivan said his mother, the most seriously injured in the car accident, underwent several surgeries for fractured bones, was hospitalized for months and has endured years of medical treatment due to the criminal car crash. He added his mother previously had battled kidney disease, with her husband donating a kidney to her several years ago, and that after the criminal car crash her kidney function decreased from the injuries she sustained. The mother suffered multiple broken bones. Her heart stopped twice, once in the ambulance and once at the hospital.
The prosecuting attorney for the criminal car crash argued that Aiysha Lee needed “to be held accountable for the lives she’s ruined. She took her car and accelerated like a bullet and hit three people who were doing nothing wrong. She destroyed lives. She was selfish and had no regard for anyone else’s well-being.” “I’ll never get the time back that I lost. My mom won’t. My dad won’t. I have nightmares waking in a cold sweat, heart pounding hearing the crash and reliving being trapped in the car. Our entire family has not recovered mentally, emotionally or physically. We will never be the same” as a result of the criminal car crash, stated Sullivan.
Judge Joseph A. Smyth rejected a prosecutor’s request for state prison time for Lee as a result of her criminal car crash. Smyth stated he could not ignore that, at the time of the crash, Lee was a teenager with a history of suffering from depression, an eating disorder and post-traumatic stress from previous emotional trauma she suffered as a child.
Judge Smyth continued “I think the significant thing in this case is that she was 17 years old when this incident occurred. The defendant was an emotional basket case” noting that the incident “has been a terrible ordeal” for the victims and that the sentence likely would not soothe their pain. Lee’s attorney stated the courts need “to do what’s right. This is an awful, awful tragedy for everyone. But there can be victory from tragedy. We can turn this terrible situation into something positive. She can be a guiding light to other people. If we put her in jail it will extinguish that potential.”
Lee pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated and simple assault and will have an adult record as a convicted felon as a result of the criminal car crash. Smyth said he believed Lee is responsive to treatment given that she has gone on to college, has had a child and has sought intensive psychotherapy since the criminal car crash. On April 10 in Montgomery County Court Lee was sentenced to 20 years’ probation and 5,000 hours of community service as a result of the criminal car crash she intentionally caused. A condition of the sentence is that Lee continues with mental health treatment.
At the end of her trial Lee stated “I wasn’t even thinking about hurting someone else. The person I was then I am not today. I just want to make the world a better place. There shouldn’t have to be another me.”