Lancaster driver was drunk in crash that left 3 dead. She’s heading to prison

A Lancaster woman who was driving drunk when three passengers in her car died in a crash has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Felicia Shontell Coffey, 28, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of felony DUI resulting in death in Lancaster County criminal court, testimony showed.

“I just want to apologize and say I am sorry,” Coffey said in court.

Sandra Coffey, 31, Crystal Johnson, 40, and Demarco Frazier, 30, died at the scene, according to the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office.

One of the victims who died was Felicia Coffey’s sister, officials said. The male victim was the father of Coffey’s four children, according to court testimony.

S.C. Highway Patrol troopers said Felicia Coffey was the driver. She was injured, then charged after she was released from a Charlotte hospital, troopers said.

Coffey was arrested days after the Jan. 27 crash on U.S. 521. in Indian Land, just south of Charlotte’s Ballantyne area in North Carolina. She was charged with three counts of felony DUI resulting in death. She could have faced a maximum of 75 years in prison under South Carolina law.

Prosecutors made no recommendation on sentencing. Coffey had no previous criminal record, officials said.

Felicia Coffey’s lawyer, Montrio Belton of Rock Hill, said in court this is not a case that warrants the maximum penalty.

“A sentence in the five to 10-year range will hold her accountable for her actions that night,” Belton said of Felicia Coffey.

Visiting Circuit Court Judge Dan Hall said in court that while no one intends the consequences of a driving under the influence where death results, it is clear what those consequences can be.

Hall sentenced Coffey to 10 years for each DUI count, with the sentences in the South Carolina Department of Corrections to run concurrently.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.