A woman was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for seriously injuring an Orange Police Department officer during a drunken crash.
Ashley Bertolino, 27, was facing six years in prison if the case went to trial. She had already pleaded guilty in August to causing bodily injuries while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs after striking officer Sharif Muzayen as he stood near the back of his patrol vehicle Dec. 10, 2016.
Muzayen suffered a broken fibula and tibia and brain hemorrhaging, losing nine pints of blood at the scene of the crash, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. His injuries were so severe that he received skin grafts, including an artery from a cow.
At Tuesday's sentencing, Muzayen gave emotional statements as he described the impact of his injuries: his leg is attached to his body with a titanium rod, he walks with a cane and some days he's forced to use a wheelchair.
Muzayen said he doesn't remember the sound or impact of the crash, just the smell as he was caught under the wheels of Bertolino's car. "My world went black," he said. "When I came back to my senses, the first thing I remember is the smell of the vehicle collision."
Muzayen's wife said he spent six weeks in the hospital. She spoke about how her husband, a Marine who had been to Afghanistan, loved to hunt, run and play soccer with his kids, all activities that he may never be able to do again, the district attorney's office said.
Still, Muzayen was ready to forgive Bertolino until he and his wife found Instagram posts in which she said she was raising money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving because her own stepfather had been injured. She also announced she had cancer and asked for prayers for herself.
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Bertolino said she suffered "a great deep amount of pain" from the crash and that the posts were her way of communicating. Muzayen, however, argued that the posts showed Bertolino had no remorse for her actions. "These social media posts have proven to me she did not learn a thing from the incident and that there is no remorse over what she did to me," he said.
Prosecutors expressed disappointment that Bertolino, who avoided prison in 2010 after being sentenced to treatment for a felony drug conviction, did not move her life in the right direction.
Muzayen said he fears Bertolino will drink and drive again. What he doesn't know is if he'll be back to protecting the streets when she gets out of prison.