EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 27, 2013

UPDATE: Lawrence woman sent to state prison for two drunk driving deaths

By Sara Brown and Dustin Luca
Staff Writers

---- — SALEM, Mass. — A 23-year-old Lawrence woman was found guilty today to two counts each of manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide in connection with a June 2011 accident on Interstate 93 north in Andover.

Following the verdict by an Essex Superior Court jury, Judge David Lowy sentenced Shayna Fernandez to three and a half to 12 years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Francis O'Hanley Jr., 62, of Saugus, and Joseph Coppola, 57, of Malden, were killed in the June 11, 2011 accident in the far-left lane of I-93. A third victim survived.

Fernandez was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter, each of which carry a maximum of 20 years in state prison.

She was also found guilty of motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence and recklessly, each of which carry a minimum one-year sentence in a house of correction and a maximum of 15 years in state prison, according to Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

Fernandez was found not guilty on two counts of motor vehicle homicide while operating with a blood alcohol level over 0.08, which Kimball-Monahan said is "a different way to charge the same conduct."

“This case serves as yet another sad reminder of the deadly consequences of drinking and driving,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “This was an entirely preventable tragedy had the defendant made the decision not to drive that day.”

In his sentencing argument, Essex Assistant District Attorney Mike Patten recommended that the defendant be sentenced to serve eight to 12 years in state prison due to the fact that two lives were lost as a direct result of the defendant’s actions. “While it was never her intention to kill two people, she must be held accountable for what she did,” Patten said.

During the trial, Patten introduced evidence which proved that Fernandez, while intoxicated, drove her Acura RSX in excess of 90 mph on Route 93 North in North Andover, on June 11, 2011, when she collided with a boat trailer towed by a Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, driven by Francis O’Hanley, Jr., 62, of Saugus. Her car had gone into the grassy center median, then, re-entered the travel lane of the highway, striking the trailer and causing the Blazer to roll over.

O’Hanley was taken to Lawrence General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Joseph Coppola, 57 of Malden, was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he died later that day. A third passenger was not seriously injured.

Patten acknowledged the outstanding work of Massachusetts State Police Troopers Dan O’Brien and John Ragosa and Lt. John Bibeau. Family members of the victims received assistance from Essex Victim Witness Advocate Jennifer Anderson.

Fernandez was represented by Attorney John Morris.