7 Year Sentence for Driver in Fatal Oklahoma City DUI Crash at IHOP

A 26-year-old Oklahoma woman was sentenced last week to seven years in prison after she pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter on November 1, 2010.  

Details of the Case

Nina D. McCollom's conviction is the result of an April 3, 2009, fatal Oklahoma City DUI accident, in which she drove her vehicle into an IHOP, killing diner Chris Pitts, 36.  Pitts was eating at the restaurant with his girlfriend when McCollom crashed her SUV through the wall of the Northwest Oklahoma City IHOP, pinning Pitts against the table.  He died en route to the hospital.

After the crash, McCollom told police that her brakes had failed.  However, police found no evidenced of mechanical failure of the vehicle.  McCollom, who then admitted to having "five beers," was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit for DUI in Oklahoma.

At McCollom's sentencing, the victim's mother requested that the driver be sentenced to 36 years in prison--the length of her son's life.  However, Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson, a former criminal defense attorney, sentenced McCollom to 7 years in prison followed by 18 years of probation. 

Furthermore, McCollom's driver's license will be suspended for 25 years, a move which the judge says will "provide for the safety of the community."  McCollom must also pay restitution to the victim's family and $2,500 to the Oklahoma Victims Compensation Fund.

Chris Pitts is survived by a daughter who was 9 years old at the time of the crash.  A lawsuit against McCollom and the bar at which she had been drinking before the accident was settled for $1.1 million, with the majority of the settlement going to Pitts' daughter.

At her sentencing, Nina McCollom said that the crash was a "horrible accident" and that she had not realized she was intoxicated the night of the fatal DUI.

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