For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
WOMAN SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS IN STATE PRISON FOR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS AND SERIOUSLY INJURING NEWPORT BEACH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT
SANTA ANA – A woman was sentenced Friday to seven years in state prison for driving under the influence of drugs and crashing into a Newport Harbor High School student, who was walking in a crosswalk from school. Marnie Jo Lippincott, 39, Costa Mesa, pleaded guilty to the court Sept. 13, 2012, to one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury and one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license with a sentencing enhancement for causing brain injury and paralysis.
At approximately 2:53 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2011, Lippincott was driving her Chevrolet Tahoe under the influence of multiple drugs and alcohol without a license, as her license had previously been suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles. She was driving north on Irvine Avenue toward an intersection on Margaret Drive. Lippincott failed to yield for the pedestrians in the crosswalk and hit 17-year-old Crystal M., who was leaving school with two friends.
As a result of the collision, Crystal M. was thrown several feet and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The victim was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where she was declared to be in critical condition and was placed in a medically-induced coma. The victim continues to suffer cognitive deficits and long-lasting brain trauma injuries.
Witnesses called 911. The Newport Beach Police Department responded to the scene, administered a series of Field Sobriety Tests on Lippincott, and found the defendant unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. At the time of the crash, the defendant was under the influence of drugs including oxazepham, temazepam, phentermine, methadone, all of which impaired her driving. More than three hours after the crash, Lippincott had a blood alcohol level of .05 percent.
At the sentencing Friday, the victim, along with family members and friends, delivered emotional statements before the court. Crystal M. said in part, “This accident hurt me so much both physically and emotionally. She’s affected my future by putting a halt on my ‘teenage’ life. Now because of the brain injury I got from the accident, it’s going to be a while before I can really focus on school.”
The victim’s mother said in part, “Prior to the incident, Crystal had a good life. She had her freedom and the independence that every teenager looks forward to. That’s gone now. Crystal spent two months in the hospital and at a rehabilitation facility. Today, Crystal cannot safely operate a vehicle, she cannot be left alone for very