United States Attorney Kenneth Wainstein announced that Tandra T. Vaughn, 31, of SE, Washington, D.C., was sentenced in D.C. Superior Court before the Honorable Rhonda Reid-Winston to a term of 48 months in prison, with all but 10 months suspended for the April 3, 2005 incident in which the defendant’s car loaded with 10 children collided with a parked fire truck.
Vaughn pled guilty on April 12, 2005, to First Degree Cruelty to Children. The Court also ordered Vaughn to undergo mental health evaluation and treatment, drug testing and treatment, and parenting classes.
According to the government’s evidence, around 8 p.m. on April 3, 2005, Vaughn packed 10 children – seven of her own children and three nieces and nephews – into a Nissan Altima, a car which seats five people. Vaughn intended to drive the children home from a birthday party, despite the fact that she did not have a driver’s license. The children ranged in age from two to 12 years old. Although Vaughn was wearing her seat-belt, nine of the 10 children were not belted and none were secured in a child safety seat.
Vaughn then crashed the vehicle while driving on the 1300 block of Congress Street, SE. Vaughn veered her car into the opposing lane and struck a parked D.C. fire truck, which was in the area responding to a call for service.
Several of the children were severely injured in the collision, including a two-year-old who suffered a fractured skull, a three-year-old who suffered two broken legs, and an 11-year-old whose jaw was broken in two places.
At the hospital, Vaughn admitted to drinking one beer and smoking PCP immediately before picking the children up from the party. In fact, blood tests revealed that Vaughn had a blood-alcohol level of 0.235, almost three times the legal limit for intoxication in the District of Columbia.
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