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By Erin Shannon
Posted Jul. 23, 2013
Karen Blau went to 107 Lincoln St. Sunday night looking for her 23-year-old daughter, who had been missing for several days. Her daughter was not there.
Blau, 46, then backed her Buick LeSabre out of the driveway of that home, sped in reverse across the street onto the opposite sidewalk and struck, Joanne White, 35, before coming to rest against a tree, said Stoughton police Deputy Chief Robert Devine.
White was 31/2 months pregnant. She was taken by Medflight to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she was pronounced dead.
“First the (unborn) baby perished, then Ms. White perished … as a result of the crash,” said Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Matt Friedel at Blau’s arraignment on Monday.
Blau, of 10 Suffolk Road, Sharon, was arraigned in Stoughton District Court on Monday afternoon and held on $500,000 cash bail.
She pleaded not guilty to motor vehicle homicide under the influence of liquor, motor vehicle homicide under the influence of drugs, negligent motor vehicle homicide, negligent operation and marked lanes violations.
“She’s pretty distraught … in shock over it,” said her attorney, James Gavigan, after the arraignment.
Gavigan said “there’s no way” Blau could make bail and they would seek to reduce it in Superior Court later this week.
Blau was glassy-eyed, slurring her words and unsteady on her feet when police arrived, said Friedel, the prosecutor.
Blau failed field sobriety tests – including walking toe-to-heel in a line and standing on one foot – and was arrested at the scene, said Friedel.
She originally told police at the scene she hadn’t had a drink in five years and she is prescribed Percocet, a painkiller, which she takes twice a day, Friedel said.
Blau later told police she had one glass of wine earlier in the evening but “did not consider it drinking alcohol,” according to Friedel.
Her attorney disputed the information and said Blau takes Prozac, an anti-depressant, not Percocet.
Blau blew a .04 blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer at the scene and then a .06 at the Stoughton police station, which is consistent with a glass of wine, and both are under the legal limit, which is .08, Gavigan said.
Gavigan said Blau was “under duress” at the time of the crash looking for her daughter, Tracey, who had been missing for several days.
Blau lost control of the 2002 Buick LeSabre she had purchased less than a week ago when she was backing out of the Lincoln Street driveway and was in reverse when she struck White, who was walking with her 11-year-old son, according to Friedel.
White yelled to her son to run away when she saw the car coming at them. The boy hid behind a tree, the same tree that eventually stopped the car. He was unhurt, said Friedel.
Blau’s daughter, Tracey, was picked up on a warrant on Sunday night and was in court on Monday for her mother’s case and her own.
Tracey, Blau’s husband Scott, and her son, who was not identified, were in the courtroom on Monday. They declined to comment as they left the courthouse.
Blau wore a green tank top and handcuffs in court. She showed no emotion but her daughter sobbed during the arraignment.
At the time of the incident, Blau had an active license, according to Sara Lavoie, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, but it was suspended indefinitely by the Registry of Motor Vehicles under the immediate-threat and fatal-preliminary provisions on Monday.
Her record shows a series of suspensions for failing to pay citations on time and for outstanding court and warrant issues as well as four surchargeable accidents on the record.
Blau’s right to operate was suspended for a time based on outstanding financial obligations in the state of Rhode Island following a search of the National Driver Register, said Lavoie.
Over the years she has been found responsible for failure to stop, having unregistered or improper equipment, failing to keep right, no registration or license in possession, failure to signal and a lane violation, her record shows.
The car Blau was driving had not yet been registered or inspected since she bought it a week ago, said Gavigan.
Blau currently has an open case in Dedham District Court for operating with a suspended license, said Gavigan.
Blau previously worked as a waitress at Christina’s in Foxboro and Joe’s American Bar and Grille in Braintree.
The case was continued until Aug. 14 for a pretrial hearing.
Erin Shannon may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @Erin_Enterprise.