Nadine Rager, a Western Maryland woman who struck and killed a cyclist while she was texting and then drove away, pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter by vehicle and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, all but 5 suspended.
Circuit Court Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced Nadine Louise-Nicole Rager, 24, of Abbey Lane to serve 10 years, but suspended five years and gave her 165 days of credit for previous time served.
Long also ordered Rager, who pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter by vehicle, to be on supervised probation for five years upon her release and pay restitution of $1,979 to the family of John William Bushman Sr. to cover funeral costs.
In addition to texting while driving,
Investigators also determined that Rager was traveling home after visiting a drug dealer to purchase spice, or synthetic marijuana, and also had smoked some of the illegal substance earlier in the night.
Assistant State's Attorney Leon Debes said he learned that Rager was "not a very good person," noting several instances in which she lied about the events that unfolded the night Bushman was killed.
He told the judge that Rager was disrespectful to family members when she was jailed and showed little remorse for what had happened.
Meanwhile the defense argued that she was the victim of abuse
Assistant Public Defender Loren R. Villa said that Rager, also a mother of a young child, endured a difficult upbringing, and was abused and molested when she was a child.
She struggled with substance abuse and got mixed up with the wrong crowd, Villa said.
Bushman had had trouble with the law, but was trying to turn his life around. He was riding a bike to work rather than drive on a suspended license.
Bushman and Rager were both traveling west along West Washington Street when the crash occurred. Rager, who was driving her boyfriend's 2010 Mazda 3, fled the scene without stopping, prosecutors said.
About 15 minutes after the accident, a passer-by spotted Bushman's body lying in the road and alerted authorities. The collision left pieces of the car behind, and investigators were able to identify the make and model of the vehicle
Without knowing the extent of his injuries, one has to wonder if 15 minutes would have made a difference here. That can be a very long time for someone in trauma as I understand it.
And she's a repeat offender here.
Rager's previous record includes probation before judgment for driving while suspended and using a handheld telephone while driving, prosecutors said.
Those charges were filed in 2014, but the pleas were entered on Feb. 5, a week after Bushman's death, according to Washington County District Court records.
Online court records indicated Rager also had an earlier conviction for using a handheld telephone while driving.
Some piece of work.
On the one hand, the only other Maryland driver I know of who was sentenced to as long as 10 years for a fatal bike crash is former Terrapin football player Quinzy Fraser. [His sentence was suspended to eight years, of which he should be about half way done now. But I remember about 2 years ago he was up for parole, and I can't find him in the Maryland Corrections system, so who knows].
On the other hand, that sentence seemed a little short for someone who was, like Rager, a repeat offender, who drove recklessly and then left the cyclist to die.