Mom testifies about drowsy driving

Published 2:03 am Friday, February 12, 2016

Shown is the Nissan Altima Wendall Williams was a passenger is in 2006 when he died.

Shown is the Nissan Altima Wendall Williams was a passenger is in 2006 when he died.

Says she’s hopeful Holley’s bill will finally pass this legislative session

Shelia Faulkner is enthusiastic, but she’s also still mourning.

Wednesday, Faulkner stood before the Senate Judiciary committee and told her story.

It’s a story no mother wants to tell, but it’s one she’s using to hopefully help push a new law through the state legislature to ensure others who are in her shoes get the justice she feels she deserves.

Some nine years ago, Faulkner lost her son in a fatal accident.

Wendall G. Williams, 28, was a passenger in the car, and by accounts, riding with a man who had been awake between 22 and 30 hours before he fell asleep at the wheel that November morning in 2006.

The driver was not charged nor given any traffic citations.

Police reports from the day say law enforcement arrived to a green four-door Nissan Altima was upside in a drainage culvert on the north side of MLK bypass just west of the railroad crossing after going airborne.

The front end of the vehicle was pointing east and debris was scattered all over the road. Two white males were laying on the ground face up north of the vehicle. Williams was dead and the driver was still conscious.

In one police report, the driver stated he did not know who was driving. A family friend, who worked at the 4 Sons, said that the driver was driving the Altima when they left the 4 Sons.

Faulkner has worked for the last three legislative sessions to get a bill passed penalizing those drowsy drivers who cause harm to others. Sen. Jimmy Holley, who represents Covington County in the state senate, is sponsoring a bill this session. It is still in the senate judiciary committee.

Faulkner said she was able to take the committee floor to speak to senators and some district attorneys in the state.

“I just told my story,” she said. “I didn’t get to say everything I wanted, but they told me they are tweaking it to make sure that the law will stick.

“I just believe in my heart they are going to pass this, this time,” she said. “I know they have some things to iron out, but we are closer than we have been.”

Faulkner said everyone was so hospitable to her.

“They said they were sorry for my loss,” she said. “Sen. Jimmy Holley has been great, and I’m just so pleased with how he and his staff and everyone else has treated us.”

Currently, state law holds that a person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if he or she causes the death of another person by criminal negligence.

Criminal negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor unless the person commits the offense while driving a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated.

The bill would provide that a person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if the person causes the death of another person as a result of operating a motor vehicle, an aircraft, or a vessel while fatigued.

Criminally negligent homicide under these circumstances would be punishable as a Class C felony.

The term fatigued in this bill means having been without sleep for a period of 24 consecutive hours.