Florida Keys

Keys driver who said she was distracted by God gets 32 years in prison for fatal crash

April Thomason
April Thomason

A Key West woman who killed a woman in 2015 with her car deserves 32 years in prison, a Monroe County judge decided Monday.

April Dawn Thomason, 46, ran over Stephanie Collins with her Mercedes-Benz on Sept. 15, 2015, and could have killed two other people, a jury found last month.

“I’m sorry for everything, most of all the loss of a person’s life,” Thomason said in court. “I’m so sorry for all the pain I caused.”

A jury convicted Thomason of vehicular manslaughter for the fatal crash on the sidewalk of South Roosevelt Boulevard where Stephanie Collins, 49, of Cudjoe Key, and her friend Ian McNab were walking that evening.

McNab was able to jump out of the way, but Collins was struck and went under the car.

Thomason pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, blaming the crash on severe Xanax withdrawal which she began on her own without any medical help. She had no intoxicants in her system, a blood test showed. She also told police she was distracted by talking to God while behind the wheel.

Thomason’s public defender, Kevin McCarthy, asked Judge Luis Garcia for five years in prison followed by up to 25 years of probation. Prosecutor Colleen Dunne asked the court for a 35-year sentence.

“There was no planning of a crime, no scheme,” McCarthy told the judge at the Monroe County Courthouse. “It was a tragic mistake and an accident.”

Thomason blamed the side effects of Xanax withdrawal for the crash but the jury didn’t buy her claim that she was insane at the time. She told police after her arrest that she was praying while driving and got distracted.

Judge Garcia listened to testimony Monday that Thomason was sexually abused by one stepfather when she was a young girl and physically abused by another.

“Your darkest moments pale to the pain and suffering you caused Stephanie Collins and the pain and suffering you caused her family and friends,” Garcia told her.