An Egg Harbor Township woman was sentenced to 21 years in prison in a crash that killed a Somers Point woman and her 10-month-old son.
Nancy Cavanaugh, now 68, admitted last year that she was drinking and on prescription medication Feb. 26, 2019, when she crossed into oncoming traffic on English Creek Avenue, and crashed into the vehicle carrying Alisha Williams and her 10-month-old son, Amari.
“There is no way to make this fair to the family or the defendant,” Williams’ father told the judge. “Everybody’s been affected in more than one way.”
Charles Lyles then turned his words to the defendant.
“The man that I am, I forgive you,” he said. “I just wanted to say that.”
Cavanaugh was a woman in “severe emotional distress” when she drank vodka in the ShopRite parking lot before heading home that day, attorney John Tumelty said.
Cavanaugh learned she had lung cancer weeks after retiring from 40 years at Caesars Atlantic City in December 2018.
The day before the crash, she had undergone surgery and that morning had blood work in preparation for chemotherapy, Tumelty said.
The investigation found that she had four to six drinks and had taken more than her prescribed amount of alprazolam, better known as Xanax.
She drank in the parking lot of the ShopRite before heading home on English Creek, Tumelty said.
But instead, she crossed over the line, sparking the fiery crash.
Witnesses ran to Williams’ vehicle.
“Just get the baby,” she told them.
He described the fire as “fast and violent.”
Cavanaugh pleaded guilty last year to two counts of first-degree aggravated manslaughter. The open plea meant she was sentenced at the judge’s discretion, facing anywhere from 10 to 60 years in prison.
Her family members addressed the court, each first turning to the family of the young woman and baby, apologizing for the tragedy.
“It’s impossible to imagine the devastating loss you are going through,” Cavanaugh told the family. “Because of my decision you have lost two beautiful lives.”
She asked forgiveness from both the victims’ family and her own.
“Nothing this court can do will restore your lost loved ones to you,” Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury said before imposing sentencing.
He also indicated she could die in prison.
Cavanaugh was sentenced to two concurrent 21-year terms. With time served, she would have to serve about 15 more years in prison under the No Early Release Act, making Cavanaugh about 83 years old.