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Driver sentenced in fatal accident

November 10, 1997

Driver sentenced in fatal accident

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

The driver of a car involved in a fatal accident on Md. 34 near Sharpsburg was sentenced Monday in Washington County Circuit Court to 18 months in jail.

Jesse Lee Garrott, 31, of 1917 Hoffmaster Road, Knoxville, pleaded guilty to homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Additional charges of driving while intoxicated, negligent driving and driving without a license were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Wayde Andrew Smith, 30, of 7827 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, died in the June 16 crash.

"I have Wayde's blood on my hands,'' Garrott said to Smith's family members in the courtroom Monday. "There's nothing I can say except that I'm extremely sorry.''

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Earlier, Judge Kennedy Boone heard from Wendy Clipp, the mother of Wayde Smith's son.

"I just want justice,'' Clipp said tearfully. "There's been a lot of suffering here.''

Smith died when the car in which he was riding ran off the road, hit a tree and flipped onto its roof, crushing him, Maryland State Police said.

Trooper 1st Class John Sexton said driver error and alcohol were contributing factors when Garrott's 1986 Subaru station wagon drifted off the right side of the road east of the railroad bridge.

After the 1:34 a.m. accident, Garrott was taken to Washington County Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. His blood alcohol level was .18.

He has remained in the Washington County Detention Center since then.

Deputy State's Attorney Charles Strong told Boone that Garrott has two prior alcohol-related driving offenses.

"Garrott has suffered a tragedy here too,'' said defense attorney John Salvatore. "He realizes he is responsible for killing his friend.''

Salvatore said Smith was asleep in the car when the vehicle wrecked and "Garrott apparently fell asleep too.''

Garrott told his attorney that he wants to quit drinking for good this time.

"There's no doubt in my mind that you mean what you say,'' Boone said. But he added that Garrott previously had been through a 30-day alcohol program at the Finan Center in Cumberland and the Jail Substance Abuse Program in Washington County and still was drinking the night of the accident.

Boone sentenced Garrott to the maximum 5-year sentence and suspended all but 18 months in the local jail. When released, he will be on probation for two years.

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