A Lower Brule woman was sentenced to 35 years in the South Dakota Women’s Prison yesterday for her guilty pleas to five counts of Vehicular Homicide. 19-year-old Tessa J. Crane appeared in court in Kennebec yesterday and was given ten year sentences for each count-with the counts to be served consecutively. Three years have been suspended from each count and Crane will receive credit for 91 days served in jail. Crane was also ordered to pay court costs, court appointed attorney fees and must reimburse Lyman County for various other costs related to her case. In addition, Crane must pay restitution which will be determined at a later date for the deaths of five people who were killed in an August 2011 car crash northwest of Reliance. Her driving privileges will be revoked for ten years after she is released from custody.
Crane was charged after the vehicle she was driving collided head-on with another vehicle at the crest of a hill on a gravel road. Both vehicles were engulfed in flames after the crash. One person in Crane’s car died; 35-year-old Jesse Hawk Wing. Crane and a Lower Brule man were injured. Four of six people in the other vehicle perished. Killed in the second car were 18-year-old Gabriella Laroche; 33-year-old Truman Armell, 32-year-old Alvina Johnson and 10-year-old Deja Sazue. Two young boys in that car received serious injuries.
Crane was indicted in September of 2011 on the Vehicular Homicide counts, along with two counts of Vehicular Battery, DUI and Driving Without a License. Vehicular Homicide carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in custody. She originally pleaded not guilty earlier this year, but was rearranged at a change of plea hearing on October 3, during which she pleaded guilty to the five Vehicular Homicide counts.
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