A Brick Township woman was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in state prison on a vehicular homicide charge stemming from an accident on Herbertsville Road in 2012.
Deborah L. Tadych, 61, will also have her driver’s license suspended for 10 years and be subject to three years of parole upon her release. The court’s sentence, handed down by Superior Court Judge Francis Hodgson, stems from Tadych’s involvement in the Dec. 18, 2012 crash that killed Susan Steeper, 65, also of Brick.
Prosecutors said Tadych was drunk behind the wheel of her 2008 Hyundai Sonata while driving in the northbound lane of Herbertsville Road without headlights at about 6:37 p.m. The crash with Steeper’s 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis took place near the entrance of the Maple Leaf Park development. Two vehicles observed Tadych coming directly at them and were able to avoid impact by pulling to the side of the road, authorities said, but Steeper was not able to evade Tadych quickly enough.
Tadych’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was .25, more than three times the legal limit, prosecutors said. She was also found with a half-full bottle of Laird’s vodka in her possession at the time, and had hit parked cars before the fatal crash.
According to Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office, Hodgson agreed with Tadych’s defense attorney, William P. Cunningham, who requested the seven year sentence. Cunningham argued his client’s complete lack of a prior criminal record, as well as a minimal motor vehicle violation history was proper mitigation for the Court to impose a seven year sentence. Cunningham also referred the court to a letter authored by the defendant for sentencing wherein she expressed sincere remorse for her actions. Tadych also apologized to the family members of the victim who were present in the courtroom, acknowledged her alcoholism and how it has adversely affected her relationship with her children.
Prosecutors contended Tadych deserved a lengthier sentence due to the extreme nature of the crash – specifically, driving the wrong way without lights, and the high blood-alcohol level – plus the fact that Tadych had never sought help for an addiction to alcohol.
“She remained estranged from family members rather than enter treatment,” said Della Fave. “The state further argued that the only reason the defendant is a recovering alcoholic is because she has been incarcerated since the event and has no access to alcohol. The State argued that the risk of the defendant committing another offense was extremely high given the depth of the defendant’s denial.”
In the end, the court took both sides’ arguments into account. Tadych was given the seven year sentence, agreeing on the heinous nature of the crash but also taking into account mitigating circumstances and a belief that Tadych’s remorse is sincere.
Tadych, who has been incarcerated at the Ocean County Jail since the crash took place, was immediate remanded to state prison to begin serving her sentence, Della Fave said. Tadych must serve 85 percent of the seven year term before being eligible for parole.