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Driver found guilty of assault charges in 2016 crash


Leonardtown, MD - A St. Mary’s County woman who crashed her Jeep Liberty into a pickup that had stopped at a red light in Mechanicsville back in late October 2016 was found guilty of several of the over 20 charges she faced. The four occupants of the Nissan Frontier that was struck at the Three Notch Road-Mechanicsville Road intersection during the early evening hours by a vehicle operated by the defendant, Victoria Ann Gellings, 47, sustained life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash.

The state’s case against Gellings was heard in District Court Tuesday and Wednesday, July 24 and 25. Judge Robyn Riddle presided over the hearing and rendered the verdict. The case was prosecuted by St. Mary’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Laura A. Caspar. Robert H. Harvey Jr. represented Gellings.

Among those called on by the prosecution to present testimony were three motorists who on Oct. 28 around 6 p.m. had observed the 2006 Jeep Liberty being operated in an erratic manner, barely averting collisions with other vehicles. The witnesses tracked the Jeep’s dangerous journey from the parking lot of McKay’s in Charlotte Hall to the crash scene in Mechanicsville. At least two witnesses testified that they saw the Jeep become airborne and end up in a ditch near Mechanicsville Elementary School, only to return to the roadway. One witness did call 911 to report the careless driver.

“It felt like we were struck by lightning,” said Michael Flores, 32 of Lexington Park, who was driving the Nissan. Flores and the truck’s three passengers—Angela Kalnasy, 27; Christopher Kalnasy, 26; and Katelyn Kalnasy, 23; all of Mechanicsville—were flown to MedStar Washington Hospital Center with critical injuries. Gellings was flown to the same hospital.

“It was pretty chaotic,” said Deputy Andrew Budd of the crash site, noting that two of the occupants of the pickup truck were ejected from the vehicle.

In addition to Flores, Christopher Kalnasy and Katelyn Kalnasy testified during the hearing. “I remember being in a lot of pain and no one would give me a mirror to look at myself,” Katelyn Kalnasy told the court. She testified that she woke up from a coma 11 days after the collision and remained hospitalized until mid-November.

Gellings was charged with numerous counts in connection with the crash nine months after the incident. The charges included four counts of second-degree assault plus charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Harvey told the court there was no evidence that his client was drinking alcohol or using drugs prior to the crash. He stated that Gellings’ erratic driving was likely the result of a diabetes-related medical emergency. “My client was seriously injured, too,” said Harvey. “It was  a tragic accident but not a criminal act.”

Harvey pointed out that police were unable to obtain either a blood test or breathalyzer from his client after the crash occurred. No alcohol containers or drugs were located in Gellings’ vehicle after the collision. The defense’s top witness, Dr. Lawrence J. Guzzardi, a Philadelphia medical toxicologist, told the court that after interviewing Gellings, he concluded “she has no recall” of the Oct. 28 events. Guzzardi stated that Gellings’ diabetes is the type that manifests itself with hypertension. “At the time [of the crash] she was not her normal self,” he said.

After hearing the testimony and the lawyers’ closing arguments, Riddle quickly handed down the verdict. Gellings was found guilty of four counts of second-degree assault, four counts of causing life-threatening injuries with a vehicle while impaired and four counts of causing life-threatening injuries with a vehicle involving drugs. Those charges are all misdemeanors.

Riddle ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set a tentative sentencing date of Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. Caspar requested that Gellings be held at the detention center until sentencing. “I think she’s dangerous,” said Caspar. Harvey assured the court his client was not dangerous nor a flight risk. Riddle instead ordered level three pre-trial supervision which employs electronic monitoring. Gellings was ordered to abstain from alcohol.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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