HHS grad killed on I-310 was not intoxicated at time of accident
Jonathan Menard - Oct 17, 2013
The mother of a Hahnville High School graduate who was killed on I-310 last November wants to set the record straight about her daughter’s death, pointing to the fact that State Police incorrectly believed her daughter was intoxicated when she was struck by a car.
The mother, Brenda Isaac, also believes the driver who hit her daughter should have been given a ticket since he was going 13 miles per hour above the speed limit at the time of the crash.
Sherrie Polly, who is from St. Charles Parish but was living in Olla at the time of her death, was driving a 2003 Ford Explorer south on I-310 when the vehicle drifted to the left and struck the concrete bridge rail. According to an investigation by the State Police, the Explorer was disabled after impact and came to rest across the left lane of the roadway. Polly and five passengers exited the SUV and began walking on the interstate.
A short time later, a 2012 Honda Insight driven by 26-year-old Craig Schieffler, of Covington, was traveling south on I-310 when it crashed into the Explorer and hit Polly, who was standing near the SUV.
Polly was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Charles Parish Coroner’s Office. Investigating troopers believed that she was impaired at the time of the crash.
However, according to the toxicology report, Polly’s blood alcohol level was .023, which is much less than the allowable level of .08.
“I really want people to know that she was not intoxicated. She promised me that she wouldn’t drink because she had to get those girls home,” Isaac said. “I talked to the trooper and he just assumed she was impaired. You don’t make an assumption like that.”
Schieffler, who crashed into Polly, was going 73 miles per hour in a 60-mile per hour zone, according to State Police. State Police spokeswoman Trooper Melissa Matey said the speed was calculated using a crash data recorder inside the vehicle.
Schieffler had a drug screening after the crash that showed that he had taken a cough suppressant and antihistamine. However, Matey said that Schieffler was not at fault in the crash.
“Her car was disabled in the left lane. At that point she was a pedestrian standing in the middle of the road, which is illegal,” Matey said.
Polly had four children, whom her mother is currently caring for. Isaac said the last year has been a nightmare for her family. Two of the girls in the SUV with Polly at the time of the crash were her nieces.
“According to the five witnesses involved in the accident, they caught a blowout and crashed to the side. They were all on the shoulder, no one was standing in the middle of the road,” Isaac said. “Two of the girls involved are my nieces and they said there were asked for a statement at a time when they were in a state of shock.”
Despite the five witness statements about a blowout before the crash, State Police investigators say that the car crashed into the side of I-310, which caused the tire to blowout because they could not see tire marks on the roadway.
Polly said the ordeal was traumatic for Polly’s five friends.
“The girls wrote something on the paper, but stated they just wanted to come down because their cousin was lying there on that bridge dead and they were being told by troopers to grow up,” Isaac said. “They said there was no compassion for them because the troopers assumed they were all intoxicated.”
According to State Police, in the event a vehicle becomes disabled in the roadway it should be moved out of the travel lane as quickly as possible. Oncoming traffic should also be warned by using the vehicle’s hazard lights, flares or other warning devices.
However, Isaac said the girls were too scared to think about moving the vehicle right after their crash.
“The girls were in fear of their life and there were cars coming towards them on that bridge. They were trying to exit the vehicle before something hit them,” Isaac said. “That was a valid fear because Schieffler did in fact hit the Explorer.”
State Police also said the lights in Polly’s SUV were off when Schieffler crashed into it, but her mother believes that was caused by the wreck.
“My daughter would have never turned the lights off and gotten out of the truck. They were all in a panic state,” Isaac said.
Isaac called it unfair that the driver who hit her daughter was not ticketed, even though data proves that he was speeding.
“He didn’t get a ticket, he didn’t get anything,” she said. “It feels unfair.”
Matey said that whether or not to issue Schieffler a speeding ticket was left up to St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson. Chaisson said he and his office are still studying the case and have not yet made a determination on whether they will issue a speeding ticket.
However, Isaac said that she met with Chaisson two weeks ago and was told that he would not pursue speeding charges.
“He told me what good would it do me for him to write a ticket,” she said. “He told me he wasn’t going to do it.”
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