Woman pleads guilty to fatal DUI wreck
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Edward Pete Bryant Jr. never stood a chance, the prosecutor said.
With a semi on his right and a concrete median to his left, Bryant had nowhere to go when Angela Renee Walker, who was traveling the wrong direction on Interstate 77, hit his truck head-on.
Walker, 45, of Charleston, pleaded guilty Thursday to DUI causing death in the incident that occurred between the Westmoreland Road exit and the Interstate 64/77 split on March 28.
Bryant, 48, of Big Chimney, had left early for work that day. He was driving his 1993 pickup and had left early to haul an extra load of coal to help pay for his dream car -- a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, which he had recently bought.
"It was his baby," said Cindy Harper, Bryant's fiancée.
"I rode my last ride with him to Eddy's funeral," Harper said, looking at Bryant's son, Craig, who now owns the car. "That's the last time I'll ever get in it."
Bryant's family members packed one side of the courtroom Thursday. They cried softly while Walker explained to the judge what she had done.
"I was driving under the influence of alcohol and cocaine," she told the judge through tears.
Walker faces two to 10 years in jail when Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom sentences her on Jan. 8.
She walked with a cane Thursday because of injuries she received in the crash, said her attorney, John Mitchell. Walker was driving a 2013 Hyundai Elantra northward in the southbound lane when her vehicle struck Bryant's truck.
Bloom allowed Walker to remain on home confinement after her plea. She left the hearing quickly with her parents.
"She's a convicted felon now," Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach told Bryant's family members after the hearing.
"What do you think she'll get?" Bryant's father, Edward Sr., asked him.
"It's hard to tell," Giggenbach said, explaining that, sometimes, similar cases have resulted in jail time. He noted, though, that the judge could choose an alternative sentence, like home confinement or probation.
"I hope the judge does the right thing and gives her a satisfactory sentence -- a prison term," Bryant Sr. said.
Craig Bryant said he thinks about his father every day, wishing something would have kept his dad home a little longer that morning, perhaps causing him to miss meeting Walker on the road.
"If he'd have drank another cup of coffee . . . ," Bryant, 23, said with tears in his eyes.
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.