Following an emotional hearing that left many in the courtroom rattled, former soap star Jensen Buchanan -- known for her roles as The Young and the Restless' Elise Moxley, General Hospital's Melissa Bedford, Another World's Vicky Hudson, and One Life to Live's Sarah Gordon -- was sentenced to one year in County Jail and five years probation for a car crash she caused in May of 2016.
As soapcentral.com previously reported, Buchanan had a blood alcohol level of 0.34 -- more than four times the legal limit -- when she drove on the wrong side of Highway 154 and smashed her Mercedes S550 directly into the path of a white Ford C-Max, causing "major injuries" to its driver, 56-year-old Bradley Asolas of Camarillo.
The actress pleaded guilty back in August, but sentencing was reportedly delayed due Buchanan's defense team battling with Deputy District Attorney Jon Kawashima over what would be the proper sentence for Buchanan, who reportedly had no criminal history prior to the crash. Judge James Voysey indicated at the time that he would not send her to prison, and though he kept his word, he did state during the hearing that his decision "wasn't easy" to make.
In fact, after hearing the emotional victim impact statements, the judge reportedly interrupted the court for a five-minute break to compose himself.
Asolas and his wife, Sandy, faced Buchanan for the first time since the incident last spring and pleaded with Judge Voysey to give the actress the maximum prison sentence. The couple claimed the crash caused emotional distress and post-traumatic stress, as well as physical and financial damages. Asola's injuries were severe, including a ruptured spleen, shattered pelvis, lacerations in his liver, a collapsed lung, and pulmonary embolism. Asolas also sustained significant injury to his heart that may result in him needing a heart transplant, something he said he and his wife would be financially unable to afford.
"The list goes on. My body is battered from all this," he told the court. "I've always been a pretty positive guy, but this just beat me down so much."
Buchanan was given a chance to respond and read aloud a letter she had written for Asolas and his family.
"I am the drunk driver who hit you, who caused tremendous, emotional pain, and suffering," she read, visibly shaken and barely able to speak. "I am the one who made the tragic choice to drink and drive. I'm deeply sorry for the pain I've caused all of you."
Buchanan also pledged to remain sober for the rest of her life as well as attend A.A. meeting before adding, "You may never want to see me again, but I want you to know if you do want to see or talk to me, I'm here. If you want to yell at me, pray with me, I'm here."
In addition to spending a year in jail, Buchanan has been banned from entering bars and liquor stores, will have her license suspended for a year, will have to enroll in a nine-month DUI program upon release, and is subject to search and seizure.
For more information, read the full story at Santa Maria Times.
For more information about treatment for alcohol-related addiction, please visit https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/treatment/treatment.htm
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