LOWELL -- A 23-year-old Dracut woman found guilty of negligent driving when she crashed a van carrying special-needs adults into a Billerica home two years ago was given a suspended sentence and 90 days of house arrest on Monday.
A Lowell District Court jury last Friday found Melissa Rich not guilty of the most serious charge of operating under the influence of alcohol causing serious bodily injury, but guilty of negligent operation in connection with the October 2011 crash on River Road in Billerica.
Rich was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail, suspended for a year while she is on probation. The first 90 days of her probation is to be spent under house arrest wearing a GPS device.
The accident happened Oct. 8, 2011, shortly after police received a 911 call reporting an erratic driver of a white van on River Road.
When the van passed the caller's truck, he saw the name Atlantic Express on the side and provided police with a license-plate number.
The van went off the road, took down mailboxes, hit a utility pole, and crossed several lawns before going airborne and crashing into cement stairs at 186 River St.
Rich was driving a van with three special-needs adults to their Billerica group home.
As a result of the accident, all the passengers had to be taken to an area hospital. One of the passengers suffered a broken hip, which required weeks of hospitalization and rehab.
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