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Family wants to look into changing the law after fatal wreck

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Sheila Sorrentino of Southport was killed in a head-on collision last June.

The driver who hit and killed her was charged with a misdemeanor, but Sheila’s family thought the punishment should be harsher.

Although it has been over a year since the fatal crash, Sheila’s daughters said they can still remember the shock they felt when they heard their mother was dead.

“When she (her sister) picked me up and told me she was dead I told her she was lying. I said ‘you’re lying,’ “said Sheila’s daughter Serena Johnson.

Sheila was just 55-years-old when she was killed.

Her family said she was always laughing, spoiled her grandchildren, and loved lunch dates with her daughters.

“She was just there. She was our mom doing what moms do,” said Johnson.

Investigators said 28-year-old Anna Kathleen Pierce hit Sheila’s vehicle when she crossed over the centerline on NC-133.

Sheila’s family said they later found out a hospital drug test showed Pierce tested positive for marijuana, cocaine, and meth.

“We were expecting the charges to be changed,” said Sheila’s daughter Theresa Smith.

Smith said investigators were not able to prove Pierce was impaired at the time of the wreck, which is why she was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and not a felony.

“When you party all weekend and get up Monday morning, after you used drugs, you are going to make bad judgments. Whether you are totally impaired or not, there is going to be a lingering affect,” said Smith.

Earlier this month Pierce pled guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 18 days in jail and three years’ probation.

Sheila’s family feels that was only a slap on the wrist for her which has prompted their fight for a change in the wording of the law.

“If you have a positive drug test, it should be a felony,” said Smith.

Smith said she reached out to Senator Thom Goolsby for guidance. She said she has not heard back.

WWAY also contacted Goolsby to no avail.

Smith also said she plans on contacting MADD and eventually Governor Pat McCrory.


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