A Gulfport man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty earlier this week in a DUI crash that changed a woman’s life.
Harrison County Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced William Horner, 30, of Gulfport, to 25 years with 7 suspended, said District Attorney Joel Smith in a press release.
The crash happened during rush hour on June 30, 2015, on the Popp’s Ferry Bridge. Horner was driving an SUV south when he crossed into the northbound lane and hit an Acura head-on.
Bethanie Jones, 27, was driving the Acura on her way home from work when she was hit and knocked unconscious. She had to be extracted from the vehicle.
“Her injuries were life threatening and included a broken right leg and ankle, multiple facial fractures with several teeth knocked out and deep bruising of her chest,” said Senior Assistant District Attorney Beth McFadyen Moore, who prosecuted the case.
She was taken to a Mobile hospital for emergency surgery and suffered a stroke. She has had multiple brain surgeries over the past two years, has not had use of her left arm and suffers from seizures.
Before the crash, Smith said, witnesses reported seeing Horner driving recklessly and trying to pass other vehicles on the bridge, which is a no-passing zone.
Biloxi police immediately determined Horner was driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, as his speech was slurred and he passed out several times in the back of the patrol car.
The Mississippi Crime Lab determined he had methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxydcodone, trazodone and marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.
Smith said Horner admitted to police that he shouldn’t have been driving.
At the sentencing Thursday, Jones’ brother spoke about the impact of the crash on his family. He said that although Horner expressed remorse, he tested positive for marijuana after his guilty plea Monday. Bethanie Jones also spoke, describing her daily struggle and how painful the surgeries and treatments have been.