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Rensselaer County woman admits to role in fatal DWI crash

March 16, 2017 06:00 PM

ALBANY - A Rensselaer County woman admitted her guilt Thursday in Albany County Court in a fatal drunk driving crash that killed a Waterford woman last October.

Jessica Bellerose's attorney described his client Thursday as a "model citizen who made a tragic mistake."

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That "model citizen" may wind up spending the next seven years behind bars.

Bellerose, 41, of Troy, pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular manslaughter and DWI in the October 11 crash that killed 20-year old Paige Ahearn of Waterford.

Bellerose was driving eastbound on Route 7 in Latham with a .14 blood alcohol level, when she lost control of her car, rolled across the median and slammed head-on into two westbound cars, one of which was being driven by Ahearn.

The courtroom was jam-packed with more than 100 people inside, many of them friends and family of Ahearn.

Bellerose will be sentenced to 2 1/3 to seven years.

The only thing that everyone could agree on was that it's a tragic day and there are no winners.

"Certainly we all believe that the sentence should be greater than that because a life was lost. No amount of time is going to bring Paige back. She will be punished. She will serve her time,” noted George LaMarche, an Ahern family member.

"It's the best of bad alternatives. She's not comfortable, she's heartbroken over this whole thing. I mean, it's just a tragedy all the way around," explained Mike McDermott, Bellerose’s Attorney.

WEB EXTRA: Bellerose's lawyer on 'tragic mistake' client made

McDermott says not a day goes by when this incident doesn't weigh heavily on Bellerose. He says she's devastated by it and will likely have something to say about it herself at her sentencing on May 11.

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WNYT Staff

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