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Former North Tonawanda woman sent to prison in near-fatal DWI wreck

LOCKPORT – A woman who was severely drunk when her car smashed head-on into a pickup truck 16 months ago in Pendleton, nearly killing two people, was sentenced to state prison Wednesday.

Amy K. Mucha, 30, formerly of North Tonawanda, will serve 1∏ to five years in prison. State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. could have given Mucha as long as 2 and 2/3 to seven years on her guilty pleas to first-degree vehicular assault and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, and the maximum was exactly what the victims requested.

In a letter read to the court by Renee Moshier, his future daughter-in-law, Edward A. Hastings, of Wilson, wrote that while he was in the hospital and praying for the survival of his wife, “I thought about Amy’s decision to drive drunk, and I hate her for what she did to me.”

Edward A. Hastings, 76, suffered a fractured sternum and ribs and a bruised heart. His wife of 55 years, Carol A. Hastings, 73, was in Erie County Medical Center for 74 days, part of it in a medically induced coma, after the Sept. 13, 2014, wreck on Campbell Boulevard. She was crushed against the dashboard in the head-on crash.

Carol Hastings said she suffered 21 broken bones. She said in court she is 3 inches shorter than she used to be, because of a spinal fusion.

Kloch, reading from a medical report, said Carol Hastings has a metal rod in her spine, a plate in her leg, and survived methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and pneumonia in the hospital. Her voice is raspy because of a tracheotomy and long periods on a ventilator.

Carol Hastings said, “I feel this girl has taken 10 years off of my life by her choice of drinking and driving again. Apparently the first time didn’t affect her.”

Kloch said Mucha, who recently has been staying in Amherst with her two children, had one prior DWI conviction. “A fine and out the door,” Kloch said. “Where was probation?” He said he thought supervision might have done Mucha some good.

Instead, she rang up a 0.29 percent blood alcohol level, more than 3½ times the legal threshold for intoxication, after the crash, which she caused by crossing the center line. Mucha was treated in ECMC for minor injuries.

She wept as she turned toward Carol Hastings and said, “I would really, truly like to tell you how sorry I am. … I never should have gotten in the car.”

Defense attorney Barry N. Covert said Mucha has undergone counseling for alcoholism and grief. “She gets it. Every letter she’s sent to the Hastings (family) is heartfelt,” he said.

Mucha said she hasn’t done any drinking since the crash, but Kloch noted that Mucha failed alcohol tests in March and May 2015. Covert said that those were low readings from drinking nonalcoholic beer, which, he said, isn’t really alcohol-free.

Edward Hastings’ letter said his plans for a happy retirement with his wife are shattered because of Mucha. “She stole the rewards of (55) years of marriage and a lifetime of hard work,” he wrote.