N.S. RCMP arrest and charge woman released from hospital following fatal crash

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," a woman wailed Tuesday as she was led into court in a wheelchair to face eight charges in connection with a fatal crash near Halifax last week.
Beverlee Jayne Russell, 54, of Cole Harbour is charged with manslaughter, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and three counts each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and impaired driving causing bodily harm.
Russell was arrested by RCMP as she was released from the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax on Monday night.
She was held in custody until Tuesday morning, when she appeared in Dartmouth, N.S., provincial court.
Judge Frank Hoskins ordered Russell to undergo a 30-day assessment at the East Coast Forensic Hospital.
The assessment will determine if she is mentally fit to stand trial and whether she was suffering from a mental disorder that made her not criminally responsible for the alleged offences.
Defence lawyer Pat Atherton requested the assessment, saying his client takes medication for mental health issues and has a history of suicide attempts.
Hoskins ordered Russell to return to court Sept. 11.
A bandage was visible on her left foot as the woman, sobbing and grabbing at her chest, was wheeled into the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.
A car allegedly driven by Russell hit another car on Cole Harbour Road on Aug. 3 at about 5:40 p.m., sending its four occupants to hospital with minor injuries.
She then allegedly sped off and drove into the back of two cars, pushing them into the path of another vehicle coming from a different direction.
Gary Pfinder, 57, a retired schoolteacher from Cole Harbour, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Russell and two other women were taken to hospital in serious condition.

Organizations: RCMP, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, East Coast Forensic Hospital

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Dartmouth, Cole Harbour Road

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  • bernadette
    January 18, 2010 - 10:17

    I don't care how mentally ill she is....i hope the courts give her jail time and not physciatric assessment..mixing alcohol with mental illness and anyone with mental illness knows this and most times mental health patience are on medications that should not be mixed with alcohol!!!...just no excuse for this woman's actions....should be zero tolerance when it comes to drinking drivers....just my thoughts...

  • Brian
    January 18, 2010 - 10:05

    I cant breathe! I cant breathe! Ya know who else can't breathe, honey? The poor guy you KILLED
    I hope she goes to jail

  • Sarah
    January 18, 2010 - 10:04

    I persoanlly can not think of anything nice to say about a person like this. And it's so sickening that the mental health card is played so often now to get the offender off the hook.
    She drove drunk (allegedly), hit 1 car, then hit another and KILLED SOMEONE!!! She's lucky she didn't kill more!! It's disgusting.
    The always kill an innocent person and never themselves!!

  • Atasha
    January 18, 2010 - 09:49

    When i heard about this ... that she has a mental problem ... well guess what .. TOO BAD!! she hurt too many people and their families .. and one is not coming back .. having a mental illness should be NO EXCUSE for this ... if they knew she was suicidal and not well.. then she should have been ept in the hospital or a home ... she shouldnt even have been allowed to drive! and then to drink and drive !! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! this is no different than a well person drinking and driving .. our justice system is just so not right!! She should be locked up for life!

  • Kristine
    January 18, 2010 - 09:40

    Anybody you drinks and gets behind the wheel and kills someone, should be charged with 1st degree murder.

    Anybody who drinks and gets behind the wheel should be charged with attempted murder.

    There is NO reason to drink and drive. PERIOD