EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 19, 2013

City woman on trial for fatal drunk driving crash

SALEM, Mass. — The trial of a young Lawrence woman accused of a reckless drunken driving crash that killed two men on Interstate 93 in June 2011 opened yesterday morning in Salem, Mass., Superior Court.

Shayna Fernandez, 23, of 1131 Essex St., is charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide by drunken driving and negligent operation.

In his opening statement yesterday morning, prosecutor Michael Patten said Fernandez was intoxicated and speeding around 7 a.m. in the far left lane on I-93 north on June 11, 2011. Near the River Road exit in Andover, she struck a 1993 Chevy S-10 Blazer being driven by Francis O’Hanley Jr., 62, of Saugus, police said.

Fernandez’s Acura sedan swerved off the roadway into the center median, then back onto the highway, hitting the Blazer, which had a small fishing boat on a trailer in tow. The Blazer rolled over and came to rest in the median, according to police reports. Witnesses told police Fernandez was driving 90 mph.

O’Hanley and a passenger, Joseph A. Coppola, 57, of Malden, died from injuries they suffered in the crash. Another passenger, Timothy O’Hanley, 25, of Saugus, survived.

Immediately after the accident, Fernandez spoke with a state trooper, who said her eyes were bloodshot and she had a “moderate odor of alcohol on her breath,” Patten said. A breath test revealed her blood alcohol level was .12. A person with a .08 blood alcohol level is considered legally drunk, he said.

Patten said Fernandez had her last drink at 4:30 a.m., roughly 2 1/2 hours before the accident. The case, he stressed to jurors, is about “recklessness and negligence ... Disregard of known risks. That’s the theme of this case,” he said.

“Her actions set into motion a chain of events that caused the death of two people,” Patten said. He said he planned to call witnesses to Fernandez’s driving that morning, along with state troopers who investigated. Patten also cautioned the case was not about intent.

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