Nycole Dawn Meeker, 32, of Bellefonte, got behind the wheel of a car on Jan. 13, 2017, after she admittedly took various drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, and drove on a suspended license.
That decision cost a Howard man his life. And for that, Meeker received the maximum sentence.
Meeker, 32, was sentenced Monday by Clinton County President Judge Craig P. Miller to serve 64 months to 17 years in state prison for her role in the crash that killed 80-year-old Robert L. Rote.
She pleaded guilty in June to homicide while driving under the influence, accident involving death of injury while not properly licensed, driving under the influence of controlled substances and driving while license is suspended.
The fatal crash occurred as Meeker was driving on Eagle Valley Road in Beech Creek Township when police say she became distracted and drifted into the northbound lane and collided head-on with Rote’s vehicle.
Rote sustained severe injuries and was flown by medical helicopter to Geisinger Danville, where he died 12 days later. Meeker was transported by ambulance to Lock Haven Hospital for minor injuries, police said.
Meeker was arrested and charged on May 1 of this year and was arraigned in front of Clinton County District Judge Keith G. Kibler.
When she pleaded guilty in June, Meeker admitted to driving the vehicle and causing the crash while under the influence of byproducts of heroin, fentanyl, buprenorphine and hydroxyine, and to driving without a license, according to court documents.
According to media reports, Meeker appeared remorseful in court during her sentencing in front of members of her and Rote’s family.
“I would do anything to be able to give my life for Mr. Rote,” she said, via The Record Online.
Yet Clinton County District Attorney David Strouse argued for the maximum prison term of 17 years for homicide by vehicle while DUI, citing how Meeker continued driving without a license and while on drugs even after the crash.
“She was charged with speeding on a suspended license in February 2017 and was found in possession of drug paraphernalia in March 2018,” the Lock Haven Express reported Strouse saying in his argument.
In the end, Miller sentenced Meeker to 50 months to 10 years for homicide by vehicle while DUI and 14 months to seven years on accident involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed charges.
Meeker will serve her sentence at Muncy state prison for women, and was ordered to pay a $1,300 fine on top of prosecution fees.