Mother admits to drunken crash that left 3 children badly hurt

Sarah Esterline

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Fort Wayne mother arrested for driving drunk in a Halloween night crash that left three children in her car badly hurt pleaded guilty to all charges against her Friday.

Sarah J. Esterline, 35, pleaded guilty in Allen Superior Court to three counts of Neglect of a Dependent Resulting in Serious Injury, three counts of Causing Serious Injury Operating a Motor Vehicle Intoxicated, three counts of Criminal Recklessness and three counts of Causing Serious Injury Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Controlled Substance.

Police and medics were called around 7:50 p.m. Oct. 31, 2016, to the 4800 block of Hatfield Road, near Pleasant Village Road between Coliseum Boulevard and Interstate 69, on a report of a head-on crash involving two vehicles. Responders arrived to a red Volkswagen Jetta and a white Cadillac SUV crashed.

Investigators found that Esterline’s Volkswagen had been northbound on Hatfield Road when it crossed the center line and suddenly jerked as if to go back to its lane. In the process, the small sedan’s back end swung around and was struck by the southbound Cadillac.

According to a probable cause affidavit, police at the scene were approached by a “hysterical” Esterline, who was holding a small girl. She told police her children needed checked out and they were injured.

In the car, police found three children badly hurt. One boy was determined to be in critical condition at the scene. A second boy was in serious condition, but later downgraded to critical condition. A girl was hospitalized in serious condition.

As Esterline explained that she’d “lost control” of her Volkswagen while she was tending to one of her children in the backseat, police noted in the affidavit that they immediately noticed Esterline had red, watery, bloodshot eyes and her breath smelled of alcohol. She told police she’d drank 2-3 beers while trick-or-treating with her children, the affidavit said. Esterline told police later that she consumed one shot of whiskey then the three beers.

A portable breath test showed she had a blood alcohol content of .095; a certified breath test showed .159, the affidavit said.

The driver of the Cadillac – Margalida Morales – suffered minor hand and arm injuries. A passenger in her vehicle suffered minor hand and arm injuries, as well.

Esterline will be sentenced Jan. 12, 2018.