SC woman gets prison time for fatal fentanyl-related crash: ‘A message needs to be sent’
Suratya Chitpanya, 37, pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony drunken driving resulting in death and child endangerment by head-on collision in September 2021. Attorneys in court at the Moss Justice Center said the six-year prison sentence was a negotiated agreement. Between Chaitbanya and prosecutors.
Michaela Weatherly, 21, of Lancaster, died in the crash. Weatherly was a passenger in the other car, prosecutors said. The wreck occurred on Springdale Road in Rock Hill, near Dave Lyle Boulevard and Interstate 77.
York County Resident Judge Dan Hall accepted the negotiated agreement and said the public needs to know that drunk driving cases have consequences when people lose their lives.
“A message must be sent to the community about the seriousness of these crimes,” Hall said in court.
Chitpanya had fentanyl and other drugs in her blood when she was tested after the accident. Sixteenth Circuit Attorney Matthew Shelton said in court. Chitbanya also had a young child in the car with her at the time of the collision, Shelton said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, according to the U.S.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Chaitbanya apologized to the victim’s family in court, admitting that the victim’s loss could have been avoided if she had not driven the car that day.
Chaitbanya lawyer Robbie Bruce Chitpanya had no intention of harming anyone, but he pleaded guilty to accepting the consequences, the York County judge said.