December 10, 2010 in City

Driver convicted in crash with cops

Woman broadsided unmarked patrol car
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A jury on Thursday 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 Spokane County 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 and broadsided 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, suffered a perforated lung and fractured ribs, collarbone and sternum.

All have returned to work, though Cpl. Dave Adams said Burbridge likely will undergo surgery soon.

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.

Vansant cried and told her family she loved them before being taken back to jail in handcuffs. 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 trial began Tuesday morning. The jury deliberated for about three hours beginning Wednesday afternoon.


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