Drunk driver arrested after crashing into elderly couple in Leavittsburg
A Kentucky woman is being held in the Trumbull County Jail after allegedly rear-ending an elderly couple and sending them both to the hospital on December 7.
52-year-old Josephine Steele of Frankfort, Kentucky failed to appear in court after admitting to Warren Township Police she was drunk at the time of the accident. 21 News spoke with the couple's family about their condition after the accident and their message for Steele.
William and Sharon Burrows continue to heal after Steele rear-ended the couple in their late 70s last month along West Market Street in Leavittsburg. Both cars involved were totaled. The Kentucky woman was in the Mahoning Valley, apparently staying with a relative in Vienna.
"Well, first I said to Bill, "What happened? What happened," Sharon Burrows said. Burrows said she didn't realize she'd been hit when the accident happened. She quickly realized her husband was in worse condition than she was.
"It is frustrating but my main focus that night was how my parents were doing," said Lisa Collins, William and Sharon's daughter.
Sharon walked away with minor injuries including a contusion on her leg and bruising down her ankle. She's relied on a walker post-accident. Her husband, William, was faced with 4 fractures on his back and shoulder, a lacerated kidney, and the inability to swallow. William Burrows was in ICU for over a month having to undergo multiple surgeries and just moved to a long-term acute care facility, weaning from a ventilator.
William Burrows was aspirating from the accident, sending food he would swallow to his lungs instead of his stomach. "Because of this, he needed to have a bronchoscopy and be put on a ventilator. The stress from the accident caused his digestive system to bleed and he needed another surgery. It's been one thing after another."
"His motor skills are going to have to be relearned," Collins explained. "His feet touched the floor for the first time today just sitting up. He'll need to work on walking, balance, and eating." Sharon Burrows is in physical therapy to help alleviate her pain from the accident.
This all happened at First Community Church of Leavittsburg when the couple was pulling out from their choir rehearsal. Sharon said she saw no headlights coming from either direction.
"I pull out and hadn't gone very far at all and, boom! I didn't know what happened," Burrows said. "If I would have seen a car coming, I would have waited to pull out. It was perfectly clear."
Steele had a blood alcohol level of .31 and was going as fast as 80 miles per hour in a 45 zone. The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08. She fully admitted to driving under the influence and told police, "you and I both know I am f***ed up. I'm not even sorry, f**k them old people, they can't even drive," according to the traffic crash report.
"Of course, we've thought about this woman and where she's been but of course the focus has been on my parents," said Diane Riola, William and Sharon's daughter. "My dad has to be really tough to go through everything he has. He's gone through internal bleeding, numerous scopes, and surgeries. This is very shocking and of course, upsetting."
The Kentucky native was a no-show, failing to appear in court on driving under the influence refusal and assured clear distance charges. Police had been unable to locate Steele for some time but made an arrest on January 14.
"I believe in forgiveness but I also believe in justice, accountability and keeping people safe," Riola said. "She [Steele] has a lot to account for. So I believe she should be brought to justice for what she caused. We've been with my Dad every day trying to support him, letting him know we're there for him."
"The fact she was intoxicated and driving at a high rate of speed caused this to happen and it never should have happened," Burrows added. "I've been trying to think positively but that woman never should have been out there."
Collins described the accident involving her parents as "a senseless act," as she became frustrated as her father's condition worsened. "Life changes so quickly," Collins added.
William Burrows could be in long-term acute care for three weeks.
Burrows said she hopes Steele stops drinking to keep others safe on roadways.
The Burrows family contacted 21 News because they wanted the public's help in finding Steele and where she may be.
Their plea for help was answered just after 10 a.m. Saturday, less than 12 hours after this 21 News report.
Steele faces a felony charge of aggravated vehicular assault.