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28Nov/12Off

Substance Abuse Counselor Was Negligent

Imagine overcoming addiction and working as a substance abuse counselor. The words of a substance abuse counselor, who happens to be a former addict, carry a lot of weight. What happens when their actions fail to live up to their words?

Sherri Wilkins wrote in a Myspace profile that “she used to be into drugs very heavy” and “with that came terrible choices.”

Mugshot of Mel Gibson taken on 28 July 2006.

Mugshot of Mel Gibson taken on 28 July 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wilkins was trying to turn her life around: She wrote that she had been sober for 11 years, had reconnected with family and, according to state records, earned a certification in drug and alcohol counseling. She was working at a Torrance treatment center, helping others battle the addiction she tried to put behind her.

But over the weekend, Wilkins allegedly struck a pedestrian while driving drunk on Torrance Boulevard and kept driving for more than two miles with the man embedded in her windshield, according to police.

Torrance police arrested the 51-year-old on suspicion of driving under the influence and manslaughter. Wilkins told officers she “panicked” after the crash Saturday night and simply kept driving.

Other motorists managed to stop Wilkins and grab her keys at 182nd Street and Crenshaw Boulevard, Watt said. Phillip Moreno, 31, of Torrance still had a pulse when officers arrived, but was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Wilkins had a blood-alcohol level of more than double the legal 0.08% limit. She told police she was on her way home from work at the time of the crash, but officials at the treatment center said it had only daytime meetings on Saturdays and was closed.

In 2010, Wilkins faced charges of driving under the influence, hit and run, and being under the influence of a controlled substance after she allegedly hit a power pole at the intersection of 182nd Street and Hawthorne — less than two miles from where Moreno was pulled from her windshield. Wilkins dragged the pole into the road, where a few other cars struck it and were damaged.

That case, however, was eventually dismissed. Sullivan said Wilkin’s blood-alcohol level came back at zero and the levels of drugs were “so low” an expert couldn’t testify that there was an impairment. Wilkins reached a civil compromise with the other drivers.

A memorial for Moreno was crafted at the corner where he was struck. Bud Light beer bottles, a miniature Dodgers bat, a Kobe Bryant jersey, balloons and flowers lay at a nearby railroad signal, along with notes with Moreno’s nickname, “Chud.”

Court records showed Wilkins also had two convictions for burglary and petty theft in Los Angeles County, along with a conviction out of San Bernardino County for bringing alcohol or drugs into a prison.

In her Myspace profile, Wilkins said she was a “proud parent” who loved music, dogs, painting, cooking and the mountains. “I love life today,” she wrote.

Under “Smoke / Drink,” the profile read: “No / No.”

If you or a loved one were the victim of a car accident that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

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