ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Because a deputy did not follow proper procedure, a hospice worker who is accused of showing up to a death call drunk will not be charged with driving while intoxicated.
Instead, Amanda Wilkerson Gardner, 41, of Lufkin, is being charged with a Class C misdemeanor of public intoxication.
Gardner is accused of being the driver for Amanda Ebarb Meshell, 33, of Lufkin, a nurse who answered a death call on Feb. 6 in Zavalla. The family members of the woman who died said both "reeked of alcohol" and got in a confrontation with the family about whether or not they had been drinking and if they were fit to drive.
Gardner worked for Harbor Hospice as an office manager. According to a previous report, both women had been drinking at Casa Ole in Lufkin when Meshell received the death call.
Sheriff Greg Sanches said the deputy who responded to the call is a "young deputy" who did not think Gardner was legally intoxicated and thought a PI charge was enough.
Captain Alton Lenderman said the deputy should have conducted a standard breath test. He said the office tried to pursue a DWI charge using the video from the traffic stop, but the county attorney's office said there was not enough evidence there to pursue a DWI charge.
Harbor Hospice terminated the employment of both workers and offered to pay for the funeral services for the family.
The Angelina County Sheriff's Office stated Tuesday that the one hospice worker who arrived the scene of a death drunk will not be charged with a DWI.
Havard's sister, Tammie Bussey was present the night that she said she witnessed them drunk. She said she is astonished by the county's light punishment.
"She should have been charged with a DWI," Bussey said. "I do not understand why they didn't do the breathalyzer on them."
The confusion began when she realized a breathalyzer was not involved.
"Their job, to me, is to find out for sure before they turn that person lose or before they give them a PI," Bussey said.
More than anything, Bussey explains that the family wants to prevent future incidents like this from ever happening again.
"We were very displeased with it and hurt because it," Bussey said. "We don't want to see it happen to anybody else, and we'll do whatever it takes to stop it."