‘This is not a happy day for anybody.’ Woman sentenced for fatal crash that killed 2
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DRIGGS — On Tuesday afternoon in a Teton County courtroom, Magistrate Judge Robert Crowley said, “This is not a happy day for anybody,” as he prepared to levy a sentence in a case weighted with unimaginable grief and pain.
It’s been a year and four months since Myrna Izaguirre’s vehicle collided with Madelene Quissek’s on Highway 33 north of Tetonia on an unusually cold June evening.
Quissek, then 45, of Tetonia, had two girls with her in the 2007 Toyota Rav: her daughter, Emma, and her daughter’s friend, Dory Puglisi, then 8, of Driggs. Quissek and Puglisi died as a result of the collision, while Emma was able to physically recover from injuries sustained from the wreck. Izaguirre, 44, of Driggs, also sustained a variety of physical injuries.
In an agreement with the state in September, Izaguirre pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter. In the plea, the state agreed to not make any recommendations toward the sentencing and asked that the punishment run concurrently.
Crowley sentenced Izaguirre to serve 360 days in jail and suspended 330 of those days. She was handcuffed in court and will begin serving her 30 days in the Madison County Jail immediately.
“I feel the stress and responsibility as the sole parent is very heavy,” wrote Tim Kent to Crowley before Tuesday’s sentencing. Kent is Quissek’s husband and father to Emma.
“Ms. Izaguirre needs to be held accountable for her choices that devastated so many people simply by her choice to drink and drive,” Kent wrote. “I ask that you sentence Ms. Izaguirre (to) the full sentence for each count of vehicular manslaughter.”
His words were joined in court by Quissek’s sister, Christina Quissek, along with Gwen Pulglisi, Dory’s teenage sister and Frankie Ownes, Dory’s mother.
In court, Owens asked the judge if Izaguirre would turn to face her standing at the podium set up in the center of the courtroom. The judge said the Izaguirre did not have to turn, and she remained facing the front of the courtroom.
Owens held up a poster-size image of her daughter Dory.
“That selfish woman,” she said pointing at Izaguirre, “decided to drink and then drive that night.”
Izaguirre closed her eyes. Her brow knit, and her breathing got heavier as Owens continued to describe her devastation at the loss of her child.
“I don’t have the power to bring peace and comfort,” said Crowley.
As part of the sentencing, Izaguirre will remain on supervised probation for two years after she serves time in jail. She will also serve 100 hours of community service, and her driver’s license was suspended for a year. The Teton County Prosecutor’s Office will file a recommendation for restitution later this week. The judge denied the defense a request for work release from jail.
The Idaho State Police report concluded the chief reason for the crash was that Izaguirre’s vehicle, a 2015 Toyota Rav, crossed the centerline of the highway, colliding with Quissek. While the ISP report indicates that contributing factors to the collision included alcohol, Izaguirre’s blood alcohol level was logged at .049 percent. The State of Idaho recognizes a BAC of .08 percent to be above the legal limit. Teton County Prosecutor Billie Siddoway charged Izaguirre in September 2019 with two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter based on the ISP affidavit.
Puglisi’s mother, Frankie Owens, and father, Lee Puglisi, have been the most vocal on social media and through business email accounts over their outrage that the prosecutor’s office has not charged Izaguirre with a felony over the death of their daughter.
“I ask the court to do the right thing and consider re-evaluating the case and making it into a felony and at the very least sentencing this woman to the maximum jail time you would want to see if a drunk driver killed your 8-year-old little girl,” wrote Owens in a letter sent out to her business client list.
Speaking through an interpreter, Izaguirre said before the sentencing, “There are no words to express my feeling. Only God knows how much it hurts me that two people have lost their lives. If I could have given my life in their place, I would have. Truly, I am sorry.”
Crowley is the presiding judge after Magistrate Judge Jason Walker recused himself from the case in December 2019. Walker did not publicly give a reason for stepping away from the case. Izaguirre is represented by Kyle G. Hansen, of Idaho Falls.