Family hopes new law will help fatal accident victims - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Family hopes new law will help other fatal accident victims

Joseph Constantineau (Source: Brunswick Co. Sheriff's Office) Joseph Constantineau (Source: Brunswick Co. Sheriff's Office)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A man from Rocky Point took a plea deal in court Monday after deadly accident on Highway 211 in 2010.

According to Highway Patrol Troopers, Joseph Constantineau crossed the center line of Highway 211 killing 23-year-old Stephanie Heath of Supply. She was headed east on 211 to get a new tire and Constantineau was heading west.

"When she met you that day sir, you hit her so very hard you broke her legs in numerous places," Stephanie's mother Kim Heath said in court while Constantineau sat emotionless. "You broke her arms in numerous places. She was sweet and generous and was an organ donor, but there was nothing left to donate - she was so crushed."

Despite the deadly nature of the accident, Constantineau was able to plead to misdemeanor death by vehicle. He was sentenced to 75 days in jail.

There was suspicion that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, but prosecutors had to dismiss the felony charges against Constantineau because of problems proving his impairment.

According to the DA's Office, Constantineau's blood sample was never taken at the scene nor sent to the SBI lab for testing, even though he admitted to taking methodone earlier in the day. The Heath family says because of that they will never get justice, but hope a new law will help others in their situation.

"I mean there's no such thing as closure," said Stephanie's father Ray Heath who works in the engineering department for WECT. "You expect to lose a parent. I've lost a sister. That was tough, but no one expect to bury your child. People say you'll get over it but you don't. You learn to live with it and you try to turn the grief into something positive."

Law enforcement is now required to draw blood samples at the scene of all parties involved in fatal accidents and send it to the lab for testing.

According to the DA, Constantineau has had 14 car accidents in the past ten years, including one eight days before he killed Stephanie.

Jake Reeves was one of the troopers at the scene of the accident, but he has since resigned from Highway Patrol. Highway Patrol told the other responding troopers have retired, resigned or been promoted elsewhere.

Ray said he hopes the new law will get dangerous people, like Constantineau, off our roads.

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