A former ambulance driver was ordered Thursday to serve a year in prison for causing a fatal accident in King George County in 2018 by running a red light.
William V. Watson, 42, of Stafford County was sentenced in King George Circuit Court to seven years with all but one suspended on an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Margaretta Ann Davis, 64, was heading south on U.S. 301 on Sept. 17, 2018, when her Nissan Quest was struck by a 2017 Ford F–450 ambulance driven by Watson.
Judge Herbert Hewitt also gave Watson a suspended 12-month jail sentence for reckless driving and a $100 fine for failing to obey a traffic light. Watson, who had been free on bond, was ordered to begin serving his sentence Thursday.
According to the evidence previously presented by Commonwealth’s Attorney Keri Gusmann, the ambulance had picked up a patient from a nursing home in Colonial Beach and was on its way to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg.
Just before reaching U.S. 301 on State Route 205, evidence showed Watson briefly left the roadway and jerked the ambulance back on Route 205, throwing two paramedics who were riding with him from their seats.
He then ran the red light and hit Davis, who was on her way to buy some lottery tickets. Davis’ vehicle was forced into a tree and she was pronounced dead a short time later. Another vehicle was also struck, but that driver was not seriously injured.
Watson testified that the sun was in his eyes and he didn’t realize he was in the intersection until it was too late. Gusmann produced evidence showing that Watson’s view would not have been obstructed when he reached the intersection.
Evidence showed that Watson was traveling 65 mph in a 45 mph zone seconds before the collision. His emergency lights were flashing but his siren was not on.
Hewitt on Thursday said he struggled with his decision regarding Watson. He pointed out that Watson had no prior record, had been honorably discharged from the Navy and had helped a lot of people.
He called his actions that day an “aberration.”
But the judge said Watson had to be punished for a “terrible judgement error” that cost Davis her life. Hewitt also ordered Watson to never again drive an emergency vehicle.
Hewitt’s sentence was toward the low end of the recommended state sentencing guidelines, which called for an active sentence of between 10 months to just under three years in prison.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
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