Woman seriously injured after hit by drunken driver

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

A woman was struck by a drunk driver as she was crossing the street in Pekin Sunday evening, Jan. 19.

Just before 6 p.m., Tiffany LaPointe, 32, Salem, was crossing the street on Farabee Road, going from the south parking lot of Blue River Baptist Church into the church, when she was struck by Justin Carwright, 22, Pekin, who was traveling west on Farabee Road.

Cartwright was traveling in a 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage, which officers found parked in the south parking lot of the chuch, with visible damage to the front passenger side, hood and windshield. Deputy Abby Powers, who was the first officer on the scene, informed Deputy Brad Naugle that Cartwright told her he was approaching the area of the church and notice LaPointe at the last second in the roadeway and was unable to avoid hitting her. NCartwright was inside the church with his wife or girlfriend and two children when officers arrived.

Due to injuries caused by the impact, LaPointe was airlifted from the scene and transported to University of Louisville. Her condition is still very serious. There is a GoFundMe page set up by LaPointe's family to help cover the costs of her medical care. You can donate here.

Blue River Baptist Church minister Brad Moore said the church has cameras that face the roadway, but they were not recording.

Naugle said, when they found Cartwright inside, he was on his knees and visibly upset and crying. They explained to him, due to the seriousness of the crash, they were required to offer him the opportunity to submit to a chemica test. Cartwright asked for help to stand because his legs were weak. Naugle said Cartwright seemed very remorseful about the accident. He denied having had any alcohol that day.

Cartwright submitted to the chemical test and was allowed to leave the hospital. Test results came back later showing he had a .148 ACE.

Naugle met with Deputy Tory Hildreth at the sheriff's department. He told Naugle the cameras at the church were actually recording and he had been able to retrieve the video, though the date and time stamp were incorrect.

The video showed LaPointe exit her vehicle and start walking toward the road to cross the street to the church. She looked both ways and proceeded to cross the road. While she was in the roadway, the Mitsubishi came into view travling west and struck her.

Naugle went to Cartwright's home and asked him to come to the sheriff's department for an interview. Cartwright complied.

He told Naugle that Saturday night, he had been at Westside Tavern, where he had at least six beers and at least 10 shots of Fireball. He left the tavern just before 3 a.m. and wen thome to have two more beers and went to bed. He got up about five hours later and went to work on Sunday morning in New Albany. At around 1 p.m., he said his wife came to pick him up and she drove him to Burger King and he had a double shot of Fireball while in her vehicle. He said he had another double shot of Fireball while at work around 4 p.m. He also admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that day.

Cartwright was arrested and preliminarily charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering a person, operating while intoxicated per se, operating while intoxicated with a previous conviction of operating while intoxicated, operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury with a previous conviction of operating while intoxicated and two counts of neglect of a dependent.

Cartwright told Naugle he had just entered a plea agreement for an OWI earlier that week (on Jan. 15). He was arrested for drunken driving on Nov. 19, 2019, as well.



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