Farmington woman sentenced for killing teenage road worker

5:27 PM, Jun 12, 2007   |    comments
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A Farmington woman has many hours of community service ahead of her for a crash that killed a teenage road worker. When Jacque Devney was killed last July, she had just turned 18, just graduated from Farmington High School and just couldn't wait to start college in the fall. "She was there to lighten your life, lighten your spirits," says Eileen Devney, Jacque's mother. "She was just a real positive, energetic young lady." It happened while Jacque was working. She had a summer job with the city and was weeding along busy Pilot Knob Road. 41-year-old Laura Brockhaus was driving home after three straight overnight shifts as a nurse in Minneapolis. Prosecutors say Brockhaus fell asleep at the wheel and hit Jacque Devney, killing her. "Ms. Brockhaus had no sleep for 20 hours prior to the crash and only 3, 3 and half hours in the 24 hours before and that is clearly not enough sleep," says Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. Brockhaus pleaded guilty to misdemeanor careless driving. A grand jury had earlier declined to indict Brockhaus on a more serious charge of criminal vehicular homicide. She was sentenced Tuesday to stayed jail time and 100 hours of community service. Prosecutors and Jacque's family wanted more. "If you're sleep deprived, you're just as much of a risk as if you were under the influence of alcohol and unfortunately our laws don't recognize that," says Backstrom. Brockhaus told the court she didn't know how tired she was. She apologized to the Devney family, saying "as a mother she aches for their loss." "I think the biggest problem is that Brockhaus never admitted to the lack of sleep that she had," says Michael Devney, Jacque's father. Driving while sleep deprived is a growing problem nationwide. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsiness or fatigue leads to 100,000 crashes each year, accidents Jacque Devney's family believes can be avoided. "Laura Brockhaus chose to work 12 hours. She chose to get little or no sleep. She chose to get behind the wheel. My daughter would have never chosen death," says Eileen Devney.

By Trisha Volpe, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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