Broward County

A driving record so bad that a judge ruled only 1 thing would help

Jessica Crane
Jessica Crane

The state of Florida argued to a Broward Circuit Court that Jessica Crane has demonstrated such a disregard for driving laws, only jail could protect South Florida from her driving before her upcoming vehicular homicide trial.

The court agreed. So, Crane, 39, was arrested last Monday and will be held without bond in Broward’s Paul Rein Detention Facility until she stands trial on 17 charges related to the May 7 collision involving three pedestrians in Miramar. No trial date has been set. The next scheduled hearing is Aug. 18.

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Witnesses told Miramar police that Crane sped down University Drive in her 2008 Infiniti, hitting a curb in Pembroke Pines before continuing into Miramar. Witnesses described Crane’s car hopping the sidewalk just past University and Pembroke Road and hitting Michelle James and her two children. Crane continued on to strike a median, sideswipe another car and drive away. The crash-about odyssey, on the day before Mother’s Day, put the pregnant James in critical condition for weeks and left the two children with non-life-threatening injuries.

Some witnesses also pursued Crane in their cars, forced her off the road, took her keys and physically held her for police near the intersection of Knolls Road and Miramar Parkway, according to the arrest report. Miramar police said seven 911 calls were received.

On Tuesday morning, Miramar Police Chief Dexter Williams will present certificates of appreciation to nine witnesses for “their selfless and heroic actions.”

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According to the state’s filing for pretrial detention, doctors tending to James had to perform a Caesarian delivery of her 6-month-old fetus. The state blamed James’ injuries for the death of unborn Knight James on May 11. The toxicology report said Crane blew a .222 blood alcohol content, 177.5 percent over the legal limit, three hours after the crash.

Crane’s three counts for leaving the scene of an accident with injuries (witnesses allegedly held her for police) metamorphosed into manslaughter DUI; DUI manslaughter (unlawful blood alcohol level); two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury; three counts of felony DUI; three counts of reckless driving with personal injury and property damage; leaving the scene of an accident with a death; vehicular homicide; leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury; leaving the scene of an accident with property damage; leaving the scene of an accident; and violation of license restrictions.

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The state pointed out the toxicology report and that Crane had two previous DUI convictions. Suspending her license meant little as she got caught twice driving on a suspended license. That dovetailed with the knack she showed for skirting restrictive punishment. Despite being required to drive only in a car with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device, she at least twice drove a 2008 Infiniti without the device: the May 7 accident and on April 12. Crane got a speeding ticket at 9:59 a.m. in the Infiniti after she blew a high enough blood alcohol content that her 2001 Lexus went into lockout mode at 8:57 and 9:02 a.m.

Though the prosecution didn’t bring up any other parts of Crane’s driving record, the judge agreed with the prosecution’s contention that Crane be jailed “based upon her past and present behavior, which has culminated in the death of one individual ... and there is a substantial probability that the defendant committed the crime and that the defendant poses a threat of harm to the community and there are no conditions of release that can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical or ensure the presence of the accused at trial.”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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