A woman says she was praying behind the wheel when she crashed her vehicle, injuring a woman who was trying to get her grandchildren out of her car in Bellevue, Ohio, in August 2014.
The 50-year-old victim, Pamela Beckham, had a broken neck and various other injuries. She was flown in a medical helicopter to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, where she was admitted in critical condition.
Bellevue police first thought the driver, 62-year-old Marilyn Perry, was using her cellphone or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. They had charged her with operating a vehicle under the influence, driving in marked lanes and failure to control, reported Sandusky Register.
The investigation revealed she had not been using her cellphone and her system was free of drugs or alcohol. Prosecutors decided she should still be charged with vehicular assault, reported WJW.
According to authorities, Perry said the accident was caused because she was praying at the time. She said she was having some personal problems and was praying while driving, every so often putting her head down.
It was not until after Perry and her lawyer convinced a Huron County judge to place her in an intervention program and on three years’ probation that police found out about the prayer defense.
Darl Beckham, Pamela’s husband, said they do not believe that she was praying.
“I don’t believe that for a second because church-going people are better people than that," he told WJW. "For one, they would have made some sort of attempt to at least see if she was OK or something; they never have.”