Woman pleads guilty to involuntary vehicular manslaughter, DWI after birthday celebration goes amiss

Norfolk

The charges stemmed from a fatal crash on May 2, 2021.

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A birthday celebration in Norfolk went amiss when a driver lost control and hit a pole killing two passengers.

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Court documents show that 22-year-old Tahlia C. Ricks pleaded guilty on Wednesday to involuntary vehicular manslaughter and involuntary aggravated vehicular manslaughter, as well as one count of driving while intoxicated. The charges stemmed from a fatal crash on May 2, 2021.

Police say her 2014 Nissan Altima was traveling at a high rate of speed on Granby Street, near the Granby Street Bridge when she lost control of the vehicle. The car struck several curbs and ran off the roadway before slamming into a utility pole head-on.

The crash broke the pole in half and caused the car to spin 180 degrees before stopping in the middle of the southbound lanes. When officers arrived on the scene around 2 a.m., they found two women suffering from life-threatening injuries.

Both women, 19-year-old Sateya N. Baker and 25-year-old Jendaya C. Hunter, were pronounced dead at the hospital within an hour of arriving.

The driver, Ricks, and her third passenger, 20-year-old woman Jaspreet Hunter, both suffered minor injuries.

Ricks was arrested at the scene after failing all three parts of a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). She was transported to Naval Station Norfolk’s police headquarters where a breath sample showed her level of intoxication to be 0.12 grams – higher than the legally allowed 0.8 grams.

While interviewing Jaspreet Hunter at the hospital, police determined that the group spent a short time at the Raaz Hookah Lounge on Hampton Boulevard before leaving to pick up Baker on Newport Avenue. She recalled asking Ricks to slow down several times.

Ricks responded by saying, “No, I got it. I’m good. I’m not that drunk.”

Hunter went on to estimate that Ricks had half a bottle of rum and a few shots of vodka before getting behind the wheel. The vehicle’s crash data reporter shows that Ricks was traveling at 58 mph at the time of the crash – more than two times the posted limit.

Further inspection of the vehicle yielded bottles of rum and vodka, as well as cans of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Ricks will remain out on bond until her sentencing in April and faces up to 30 years in prison, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

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