OVI crash with baby on board lands mom in prison

LISBON — A Pennsylvania woman whose infant daughter was injured in an OVI crash received a seven-month prison sentence in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Friday.

Steffanie N. Johns, 29, Forty Fort, Pa., had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.204 on the evening of Jan. 22, 2013, according to court documents. She was driving a 2001 Dodge Intrepid owned by her fiance, Jason R. Jones, when she crashed on Crestview Road, striking an embankment near a private driveway and rolling the vehicle over.

The then 8-week-old baby girl riding in the vehicle suffered subarachnoid hemorrhages in both the right frontal and temporal regions of her head. The baby was transported to Akron Children’s Hospital.

This August, Johns pleaded guilty to OVI and vehicular assault.

Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble noted Johns’ “reckless and insensitive conduct caused harm to a person for whom she was responsible.” He added such injuries to a baby can be life threatening and he believed the offenses warranted incarceration.

Jones testified his fiancee is a totally different person than she was in 2013. At that point, he said, she was self-medicating because she did not know all the mental problems she was having. At some point she was diagnosed with post-partum depression and recently has been found to have a bipolar disorder and a borderline personality disorder, according to Jones, Johns and her attorney Lawrence Stacey. Johns is currently going through treatment.

Jones testified their daughter, now nearly 4 years old is “great … she’s our whole life.”

Johns called what she did that night “a terrible judgment call” and said she is glad to now have her mental issues diagnosed so she can deal with them. “The person who stands before you is a totally different woman than the one who made those decisions,” she said.

While Judge Scott Washam stated he is “not unsympathetic” to those dealing with mental issues, the OVI in 2013 was not her first OVI. She has two prior OVI convictions and had no license at the time of the crash. He also noted records show the baby was born with THC and marijuana in her system.

“When she was 8 weeks old you continued your behavior and your daughter suffered a brain injury,” Washam said.

She was credited with 12 days served for time she spent in jail in Pennsylvania while awaiting extradition on the warrant, which was issued by the county grand jury in 2013. Johns had moved from her previous address on Leetonia Road to relocate in Pennsylvania following the crash.