GH woman gets jail time for drunken driving on a moped

Becky Vargo • Jun 27, 2018 at 8:00 AM

A Grand Haven woman was ordered to serve 300 days in jail for a third-offense drunken driving charge when she was sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

Deborah Ann Gathergood, 53, apologized to the judge, saying it’s a “sick waste of time” and that “I can’t believe I’m capable of being here again.”

Gathergood said she went through a traumatic experience when she was 23 and has self-medicated for anxiety ever since. She said her real problem with alcohol began about 12 years ago.

Following drunken driving convictions in 2010 and 2014, Gathergood sought treatment in two residential programs. 

“I wish there was a program for a 53-year-old nurse,” she said, noting that she knew better than to combine alcohol with the medication she was taking.

On April 23, Gathergood said she consumed alcohol before taking a ride on a moped that she had just purchased.

“I crashed and went into the ditch on Rich Street,” she told Judge Karen Miedema during a plea hearing on May 29.

Prosecuting Attorney Ron Frantz said that Gathergood, who was injured in the crash, lay in a ditch for an hour and was eventually found by police who were looking for a reported reckless driver on a moped.

A Breathalyzer test administered at the scene indicated her blood alcohol level was at 0.17. A blood test done at the hospital showed her blood alcohol level was at 0.19, authorities said.

Defense attorney Bob Zitta asked for a modification to Gathergood’s $25,000 bond, saying that she had already been in jail for 37 days and had a job waiting for her. “This is a relapse situation” after a long-term sobriety of a couple of years, he said. 

Miedema denied the requested bond reduction, after Frantz brought up Gathergood’s eight prior convictions for some type of assault, including two at the felony level. She could still be a risk to the public, the county prosecutor said.

At Monday’s sentencing, Gathergood was also put on probation for two years, and ordered to perform community service and pay a $1,000 fine.

“I will not give up fighting to be an upstanding citizen in this beautiful community,” Gathergood said. She also said she wouldn’t give up the fight against alcoholism.

Upon sentencing Gathergood to jail and giving her credit for 63 days already served, Miedema said: “It is hoped, during this time, you will learn how to live a sober life.”

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