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Woman sentenced for crash that paralyzed a man

By Maria Miller

EBENSBURG, Pa. - A Cambria County woman was sentenced to prison Tuesday for her role in a crash last year that left a man paralyzed from the waist down.  That man asked the judge for a stiff sentence for Kelsey Tunstall, saying he wants her to get the help she needs.

"Unless miracle barring, which I'm praying for, but they told me it's permanent," said Troy Jordan.

Jordan is paralyzed from the waist down and bound to a wheel chair after the crash last year that police said could have been avoided.

Police said Tunstall was highly impaired and had her child in the back seat as she drove on the wrong side of Palestine Road in Adams Township last year, running head on into a Jordan who was riding his motorcycle.

"It's been pretty crazy," Jordan said. "I've been in and out of rehab and they're teaching me how to get by again and how to do everything again."

Tunstall had just left a methadone clinic before the accident. It's a controversial method of treatment that, in this case, changed several lives and landed her in jail.

"She may have been over the reporting limit but she was still trying to get help for her drug problems by going to the methadone clinic, but in a way the help also caused her to have further harm," said Brett Smith of the Cambria County Public Defender's Office.  

Before her sentencing Tuesday Tunstall told the court she was sorry.

"She expressed a lot of sorrow ... She was crying ... She apologized to the victims," Smith said.

But Jordans attorney called her insincere.  

"As he was lying on the street screaming in pain, she never got out of her vehicle to render any assistance or to check on him," said Dennis McGlynn. "I think that's telling."

With two teenage girls and a wife who's legally blind, Jordan is now left to lean on a family that's always counted on his support. But through it all he remains positive and optimistic.

"I forgive her, definitely, and I hope she changes when she comes out," Jordan said. "I don't want anyone to live like that."

"We're pleased with what happened in court today but quite honestly we wished that we weren't here and that this had never ever happened," McGlynn added.

Tunstall will spend 3 years and 4 months to 7 years in jail.  As part of that sentence she'll be required to pay nearly $270,000 in restitution.  

McGlynn said that's not even close to the amount his family has already been forced to pay to remodel their home and make it handicapped accessible, not to mention the thousands of dollars in medical bills and treatment he'll need for the rest of his life.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times