ALBANY, Ore. — A Philomath woman will spend two years in prison after she pleaded no contest to charges involving a fatal crash.
Investigators say 37-year-old Valorie Carrigan tried changing lanes on Highway 34 when she hit 22-year-old Chelsea Duffy’s car in 2012. The Oregon State University student died at the scene.
Carrigan was sentenced on Tuesday to two years of prison for criminally negligent homicide and third-degree assault. Her two other counts of failure to perform duties of a driver to injured persons were dismissed.
“Honestly, it was really hard to get through today because it’s just everything coming back–all the memories of how I felt when I first found out, and all the memories we had together,” said Rebekah Harcrow, one of the victim’s friends. “At first I was really angry and I wanted her (Carrigan) to pay for what she had done because she had taken my friend away from me. But now that it’s been a year and a half, I’ve come more to the realization that her being punished isn’t going to bring Chelsea back. And it’s not going to give me any peace in my heart.”
Harcrow says she knew Duffy, a single mother, for at least a decade. After the crash, Harcrow says her world changed. She had lost one of her best friends, and expresses the feeling as being “in a state outside of your own body.”
“When I first heard the news of the crash, I couldn’t move,” Harcrow said. “I sat there and stared at the wall for hours. I didn’t know what else to do. I was in utter shock and I didn’t want to believe it.”
Harcrow says the sentencing gives the case closure that allows family and friends to at least try to move on the best they are able to.
“She (Carrigan) should be held accountable for her actions, but at the same time, I feel that it is important that she’s forgiven,” Harcrow said. “I think everyone deserves that. And carrying that guilt – honestly – I think that is probably punishment enough for her.”