Man who drove high on meth, resulting in bakery owner’s death, sentenced

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The man who drove high on drugs, resulting in the death of a local bakery owner has been sentenced.

Friday, William Buckman pleaded guilty to operating vehicle with a Schedule I or II substance with prior conviction or under 21, causing death when OWI with Schedule I or II substance with prior conviction, operating a motor vehicle without financial responsibility, and driving while suspended.

Earlier this year, police say Buckman drove high on meth when his vehicle crashed into Darla J. Smith’s vehicle.

It happened on Diamond Avenue and North First Avenue, near Donut Bank.

Smith was taken to an area hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

According to the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office, Smith died from internal injuries from blunt force trauma from the crash.

Smith owned Daily’s bakery on North Main Street.

Buckman was sentenced to 10 years.

Today’s plea and sentencing hearing for Buckman got emotional at times, with Buckman himself sobbing during some of the testimony. After the hearing, some of Smith’s family members describe the sentence handed down by the judge as fair.

“Ten years, for pleading guilty, I think was fair,” says Jason Daily, Darla Smith’s son.

“I think the judge was fair giving him ten years,” adds Sarah May, who was hurt in the accident.

Buckman admitted to driving a vehicle that crashed into darla smith’s vehicle at the intersection of diamond and north first avenue this past February. Daily says the family is still hurting more than eight months later.
“The dynamic of the family has definitely changed,” he said. “We’re trying to pick up the pieces and move forward the best that we can, and doing the best that we can, but it’s affected all of us.”

Buckman’s family testified that he has battled substance abuse problems for years, and urged him to get help he needed.

“I fully understand it is a disease, it is an addiction in that it is something they do struggle with,” May said. She also says there was still no reason for Buckman to be driving that day.

“I feel like if somebody takes your drivers license, takes your insurance, takes your registration, the vehicle is registered to somebody else, there’s no excuse, no reason for you to be on the road to cause this,” says May.

“He seems remorseful, but at the same time, he’s got to show some accountability and responsibility for what he’s done,” Daily adds.

Buckman also told the judge he hasn’t decided on whether he’ll appeal the sentencing. He is scheduled to be back in court on December 3rd.

The case was handled by a special prosecutor, not the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office.

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(This story was originally published on November 22, 2019)

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