December 9, 2010 in City

Woman convicted in crash that injured Spokane detectives

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Mike Prager photo

Tonia S. Vansant, 38, was convicted of three counts of vehicular assault for this July 16 crash at Division Street and Sharp Avenue. Three Spokane police detectives were injured.
(Full-size photo)

A jury today convicted a Spokane woman of three counts of vehicular assault for a crash that injured three police detectives last summer.

Tonia S. Vansant, 38, faces 33 to 43 months in prison when she’s sentenced Jan. 6, said Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady.

Vansant has been in jail since July 16, when she ran a red light at Division Street and Sharp Avenue at nearly 40 mph and t-boned an unmarked patrol car driven by Detective Mark Burbridge of the Spokane Police Department’s major crimes unit.

Burbridge strained his back, sexual assault Detective Jan Pogachar broke her pelvis and Douglas Orr, a computer forensics specialist for the sexual assault unit, perforated a lung and fractured his ribs, collar bone and sternum. All have returned to work, though Burbridge likely will undergo surgery soon, Cpl. Dave Adams said.

Vansant had traces of cocaine in her blood system, but her public defender, Jeff Compton, disputed whether she was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

The jury of seven women and five men couldn’t agree whether Vansant was intoxicated or whether she was driving in a reckless manner, but all agreed she was driving with a disregard for the safety of others and convicted her of the three felonies.

“Sorry it didn’t turn out better,” Compton told Vansant before she was taken back to jail in handcuffs.

Vansant cried and told her family she loved them. One woman cried and said “she has five kids; it was just an accident,” but family members declined to speak to a reporter afterward.

The jury deliberated for about three hours beginning Wednesday afternoon. The trial began Tuesday morning. Judge Jerome Leveque presided.


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