LE MARS, Iowa | Melissa Ebert said she never meant for anyone to get hurt the night the car she was driving collided nearly head-on with another on a rural Plymouth County blacktop.
The accident was the culmination of a night of arguing with Damian Johnson, her daughter's father, who Ebert said also forced her to drink and then drive them home to Cherokee from Sioux City.
"I should have just run away, but I was scared of what he'd do to me if I ran away," Ebert said Monday.
Ebert, 30, of Cherokee, was sentenced in Plymouth County District Court to 10 years in prison for two counts of serious injury by vehicle for the Sept. 9, 2015, crash in which her car veered into the path of an oncoming car driven by Dustin Boll, of Le Mars, on County Road C-38, and seriously injured him and Johnson.
"I'm sorry to Dustin Boll's family. I never meant anybody to get hurt that night," Ebert said in front of a courtroom in which several rows of benches were filled with her family and friends.
As part of a plea agreement, two counts each of attempted murder and willful injury and one count of second-offense operating while intoxicated were dismissed. Ebert must pay more than $7,000 in restitution to the Iowa Crime Victim's Assistance Fund, which paid some medical expenses for Boll and Johnson.
There is no mandatory minimum Ebert must serve before she's eligible for parole. Her attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, said he hoped that District Judge Duane Hoffmeyer would at some point in the near future reconsider her sentence and possibly suspend it and have her released from prison on probation. Hoffmeyer has up to a year to reconsider Ebert's sentence. Ebert was taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing.
At her plea hearing in April, Ebert said that in the moments before the crash, she and Johnson had an ongoing argument, which became physical. She said she was speeding and lost control of the vehicle.
When charges were initially filed, Ebert was accused of threatening to kill herself and Johnson, then crashing into Boll.
Brown said Monday that Ebert denies she intentionally crashed the car.
Boll later sued Ebert and her father, who owned the vehicle. That lawsuit has been settled.