Almost a year to the day when Rebecca Lawless ran a red light and slammed into Diane Upton’s car near Town Center, killing Upton and injuring Upton’s daughter and granddaughter, Lawless was arrested on a DUI manslaughter charge and three charges of DUI with serious bodily hard.
A resident of 43 Filbert Lane in Palm Coast and a teller at Wells Fargo bank, Lawless turned herself into the Flagler County jail Thursday evening on a warrant County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens signed on Oct. 19–one year and a day after the fatal wreck. Lawless was then released after posting bail on $53,000 bond.
The evening of Oct. 18, 2014, Lawless was driving a Toyota Camry. Upton and her family were in a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Upton was driving out of the Town Center shopping Center and was making a left onto SR100. Lawless, according to Florida Highway Patrol investigators at the scene at the time, ran a red light as she traveled west on SR100 and t-boned the Cruiser.
A passenger in Lawless’s car, Kimberly Burgos, was also injured. Lawless alone was not injured in the wreck. She stood by at the scene, leaning against a Flagler County Sheriff’s vehicle, for long stretches as investigators did their work.
Lawless’s arrest report indicates that the evening of the fatal crash, she had initially been a passenger in the Toyota until the car stopped at the Kangaroo Express at 6125 State Road 100 in Flagler Beach. There, Lawless decided to drive.
“During the course of the investigation,” the charging affidavit filed by the FHP investigator states, Lawless’s behavior “was described as looking impaired, cursing and having mood swings.” When the investigator approached Lawless as she sat in the back of a sheriff’s cruiser (she was not under arrest at that point), the investigator “was met with a loud and rude rejection,” the report states.
Lawless smelled of alcohol, her eyes were bloodshot and watery, her speech was slurred, the report states, and she would swing from “very angry to quiet.”
Blood was drawn. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s toxicology report noted a blood-alcohol level of 0.1 blood-alcohol level (the legal limit in Florida is 0.08).
In Florida, DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum prison term of 15 years and a minimum sentence of four years.
She’s had four traffic infractions previously in Flagler County, including a conviction for careless driving in 2007.