A woman accused of driving drunk when she hit a pedestrian and who allegedly kept going for more than two miles while he was stuck to her car is a substance abuse counselor, officials said today.
Sherri Wilkins, 51, is accused of hitting Phillip Moreno, 35, with her Mitsubishi Eclipse, causing him to roll onto the car’s hood and then through the windshield. Moreno became embedded through the windshield as she continued driving for 2.3 miles, according to Torrance police.
Bystanders who saw Moreno on the hood of the car called police and eventually forced Wilkins to come to a stop.
Wilkins told police she “panicked” when she hit Moreno Saturday night around 11:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Robert Watt of the Torrance police department. Her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when she was tested after the accident, Watt said.
Wilkins, a recovering addict, was working as a “chemical dependency counselor” at Twin Town Treatment Center, the company’s president David Lisonbee told ABCNews.com. He said that many counselors are recovering addicts. Lisonbee called the situation “tragic” and noted that Wilkins had not worked at the treatment center in the days leading up to the accident.
Moreno, who remained alive while embedded in the window, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He had been crossing the street when he was struck. Moreno’s family declined to comment about the accident.
Wilkins was charged with driving under the influence, felony hit and run, and manslaughter. She is being held on $100,000 bond and awaiting her arraignment, Watt said.
Lisonbee said that the situation highlights the need for counselors to prioritize their own recovery.
A similar case occurred in 2003 when Chante J. Mallard, who was 27 at the time, had been drunk and high on marijuana and Ecstasy when she hit Gregory Biggs. Biggs was partially thrown through the windshield. Mallard drove with him to her house, afraid to call police while she was intoxicated. She parked her car in her garage, apologized to Biggs and left him. She and a friend later dumped Biggs’ body in a park.
Mallard was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.