She was drinking and she was driving without a license the night of Sept. 7 on Janesville’s south side.
She had been convicted of intoxicated driving three times before.
She hit a woman on a bicycle in a crosswalk, causing injuries that the victim—a cognitively disabled Janesville woman—will struggle with for the rest of her life.
She left the scene without checking on the victim.
Vickie S. Loveless, 61, of 1014 Portland Ave., Apt. A, Beloit, pleaded guilty Thursday to hit-and-run while causing great bodily harm.
Judge John Wood said he was concerned with the plea agreement proposed by the defense and prosecuting attorneys: six years of probation, one of those spent in the Rock County Jail.
A charge of driving while revoked and causing great bodily harm would be dismissed but considered at sentencing.
“We certainly don’t want to depreciate the seriousness of this offense, because this is about as serious as it gets, short of death,” Wood said Thursday as he considered the proposal.
Victim Sandy K. Schneeberger, 47, suffered multiple fractures to her pelvis, a broken back, a broken hip and other internal injuries. Her lungs filled with fluid.
She is still in a rehabilitation facility, with the likelihood she will never walk without a cane, relatives said after the hearing.
Loveless was in tears as she made a short statement: “I am truly, truly sorry for the fear and pain that I put her and her family through. ... I know it was wrong. I know I should’ve stayed.”
Wood said Loveless initially denied she did it, telling police her SUV had hit a turkey, but she later admitted it. She said she was drinking but not intoxicated. Police caught up to her four days after the crash, so there was no way to know how much alcohol was in her blood.
“You were very fortunate you didn’t kill somebody that day. We will never know if you were intoxicated that day, but the fact that you admitted that you were drinking gives pause for concern, in my mind,” Wood said.
Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan said Loveless was convicted of battery in the 1980s and was successful with her probation. In addition to her intoxicated driving convictions, she was convicted in 2006 for resisting, but no recent crimes until now.
Probation would give Loveless a chance to work so she could start paying restitution for Schneeberger’s medical bills, Sullivan said.
“She panicked on this night,” said Loveless’ attorney, Jack Hoag. “It doesn’t excuse it, but it does make it somewhat more understandable.”
Wood said restitution will be “a very, very, very large amount,” and that at age 61, he hopes Loveless can get a job and make the victim “somewhat financially whole.”
Loveless said she lost her job as a food service manager for a convenience store after her arrest.
Wood said the victim had agreed to the plea agreement, but it’s rare that someone suffers so much traumatic injury without “significant confinement.”
But in the end, Wood said Loveless’ age and the promise of some restitution led him to accept the plea agreement.
Wood made Loveless eligible to serve her sentence at home with a monitoring bracelet. The sheriff’s office will determine if she is eligible for the bracelet. If she serves her time in jail, she will get work-release privileges.
A restitution hearing was set for March 16.