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PRISON TIME IN I-95 DEATH
Woman gets eight months in wrong-way manslaughter case.

Date published: 2/23/2011

BY KEITH EPPS

A Stafford County woman who killed another motorist while driving the wrong way on Interstate 95 last year was ordered yesterday to serve eight months in prison.

Vickie Lane Beach, 58, had pleaded guilty in Stafford Circuit Court to involuntary manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

Judge Charles Sharp sentenced Beach to nine years in prison with all but eight months suspended.

Sharp said it was clear that Beach is and has been remorseful for her actions. But he said that didn't offset the fact the someone lost her life.

The victim, 55-year-old Rachel T. Benezra, was on her way from South Carolina to visit her son in New York when the Feb. 2, 2010, crash took place, prosecutor Andrea McCauley said.

According to the evidence, Beach had been drinking at a bar in North Stafford and was on her way to the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge about 7 p.m. when she apparently became confused.

Instead of turning right into the lodge off Courthouse Road, she instead took the preceding right, which is the exit ramp for Interstate 95.

She drove the wrong way on the ramp and ended up going south in the northbound lanes. Benezra was in the far left northbound lane when she was struck shortly after Beach got off the exit ramp.

Beach, who had a .10 blood alcohol content at the time, suffered a head injury in the collision and says she does not remember the accident. She was driving a new Mercedes, while Benezra was alone in a Chrysler Sebring.

Benezra was pronounced dead at Mary Washington Hospital a few hours later.

It was dark, and the weather was bad, McCauley said. Those factors, combined with Beach's intoxication, proved deadly.

McCauley said Benezra's husband has forgiven Beach, and defense attorney Mark Gardner said he has never had a client who was more remorseful.

Beach, who shook and cried throughout the proceeding, apologized to the victim's family and thanked her friends and family for their support in a brief statement before Sharp announced the sentence.

She had no prior criminal record other than a DUI in 1985.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
Email: kepps@freelancestar.com