NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A woman was sentenced to probation in connection with a January crash that injured a Northampton police officer.
According to a news release sent to 22News from the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, 26-year-old Maleaha Lee Aquadro pleaded guilty to one count each of reckless operation of a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Aquadro was traveling at twice the speed limit on Route 66 in Northampton on January 30. Northampton Police Officer Matthew Knowlton saw Aquadro’s car speeding and it crossed the double yellow lines entering his lane and hit his cruiser. Knowlton, with a broken leg, cut himself out of his seatbelt and climbed out of the driver’s side window to help to Aquadro, who was not wearing a seatbelt and also suffered serious injuries.
Officer Knowlton had undergone several surgeries and physical therapy and told the court was the worst pain of his life. He is expected to return to duty next month.
Aquadro was sentenced in Northampton District Court Friday and given two years of probation and a one-year loss of license with the following conditions: completion of a driver alcohol education program; engage in treatment as recommended; submit to random alcohol tests; 100 hours of community service. Charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, speeding, marked lanes and seatbelt violations were dropped by the Commonwealth as part of the plea agreement.
In a statement to the court, Knowlton said his recovery from injuries have been challenging and left him with permanent scarring and he moved from anger to acceptance over the months since the crash.
“It’s a miracle we’re both standing here in court,” he said. “I want to make sure it gives Miss Aquadro a chance to learn from this and understand it’s an accident, but it could have ended my life or both of our lives. I forgive Miss Aquadro and I just want to move on from this and I wish the same for her as well.”
“You are to be commended on your behavior that night and I’m very impressed by your compassion,” Connly said after Knowlton’s statement.
In explaining the plea agreement and recommended sentence, Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Andrew Covingto said Aquadro made “horrific, terrible decisions that put her life and other lives in danger. This is not a slap on the wrist.” The probation term will hold “significant conditions that will protect the public. If the court accepts the disposition, Miss Aquardro will be given a second chance.”
Aquardro also sent a letter of apology to Knowlton, which she read aloud in court. “I’m very sorry for the pain and suffering and emotional toll this has caused you and your family. I wish you the best and I thank you for your service.” Stating she has no memory of the crash, and thanked him for getting her out of the vehicle.
Aquadro could be sentenced to up to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction if she violated her probation.