A Monroe County man pleaded guilty to DUI causing death last week in connection with a fiery 2018 crash that took the life of a Peterstown woman.
According to the Monroe County Circuit Court, Charles Dent, 39, of Ballard, entered the plea and was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons to 30 days in jail and seven years probation with three of those years on home confinement.
The crash occurred in May 2018 on Rt. 12 near Ballard when a Ford F-150 hit a car head-on, resulting in the death of Janet Jackson, 79, the driver of the car, according to Monroe County Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick.
Six others were injured in the three-vehicle, fiery crash, he said, and two of those injured, both young girls, were airlifted to a Roanoke hospital.
According to Hedrick, the Ford F-150, driven by Dent, was westbound on Rt. 12 and traveling “at a high rate of speed when the vehicle crossed the center line striking a 1986 Crown Victoria,” driven by Jackson.
The truck caught fire and Jackson was entrapped.
Another vehicle, a 2006 Chevy Impala driven by Jeff Coleman of McDowell County, was traveling eastbound on Rt. 12 when he encountered the accident.
“In an attempt to avoid the accident he lost control impacting one of the vehicles involved in the accident sitting in the roadway,” Hedrick said.
Deputies quickly removed all people from the vehicles upon arrival, but Jackson was entrapped.
“The burning F-150 was located inches away from the victim still entrapped inside the Crown Victoria,” Hedrick said. “This imposed an immediate life-threatening situation.”
During the rescue efforts, Hedrick said Wes Mills with the Ballard Volunteer Fire Department risked his own life to stand between the burning Ford F-150 and Jackson’s car to shield her from the flames while she was extricated.
Mills “selflessly placed his body in between the burning vehicle and the victim still entrapped … in order to shield the victim from the flames,” Hedrick said.
Deputies then attached a chain to the F-150 and to Deputy Heath Ware’s cruiser to pull it away from the entrapped victim and Mills.
Hedrick said the Peterstown and Ballard volunteer fire departments and the Giles Emergency Medical Services “responded with countless personnel, where they diligently and effectively tended to the mass casualty incident rendering life-saving interventions in a chaotic environment.”
Dent, Coleman and two passengers in Coleman’s vehicle, 43-year-old Jennifer Coleman and a 2-year-old girl, were also taken for treatment but sustained minor injuries. The two girls airlifted to Roanoke were in Dent’s truck.
Sheriff’s deputies Ware and Herman Rodriguez responded to the 7:34 p.m. crash.