A Wichita mother who killed her 6-year-old son in a drunk driving crash in January was placed on probation Wednesday but warned that even a traffic infraction will send her to prison.
Crystal Ross, 31, pleaded guilty in September to involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence, a crime that typically carries a sentence of 38 to 43 months in prison.
But prosecutors and defense lawyers recommended that District Judge Ben Burgess depart from state sentencing guidelines and place Ross on probation.
“It’s one thing to lose a child. It’s another thing when you’re the cause,” defense lawyer Lacy Gilmour said. “There’s no greater punishment that a person can experience than that.”
Ross apologized for her actions and said, “I’m going to do the best I can ... to straighten my life out.”
Burgess granted probation, but imposed a 3 1/2-year prison term that Ross will have to serve if she violates terms of her probation.
“There is no room for leniency after today,” Burgess said. “If you have any violation, any driving infraction no matter what it is – no driver’s license, no insurance – any driving infraction, you’re going to prison.”
The Kansas Highway Patrol said Ross was westbound on K-96 about 3:15 p.m. on Jan. 26 when she lost control of her 1999 GMC Yukon Denali as she was exiting on Hillside. The vehicle skidded and rolled into the ditch. Cryisol Hall was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Ross and her two other sons were injured. Accident investigators said no one in the SUV was properly restrained.