Woman pleads guilty to vehicle manslaughter, DWI after birthday party goes wrong


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A birthday celebration in Norfolk took a turn for the worse when a driver lost control and hit a post killing two passengers.

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Court documents show Tahlia C. Ricks, 22, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to vehicle manslaughter and aggravated vehicle manslaughter, as well as to one count of impaired driving. The charges stem from a fatal accident that occurred on May 2, 2021.

Police said her 2014 Nissan Altima was driving at high speed on Granby Street, near the Granby Street Bridge, when she lost control of the vehicle. The car struck several sidewalks and rolled off the road before hitting a utility pole head-on.

The crash broke the post in half and spun the car 180 degrees before coming to a stop in the middle of the southbound lanes. When police arrived at the scene at around 2 a.m., they found two women with life-threatening injuries.

The two women, Sateya N. Baker, 19, and Jedaya C. Hunter, 25, were pronounced dead in hospital within an hour of their arrival.

The driver, Ricks, and his third passenger, Jaspreet Hunter, 20, both sustained minor injuries.

Ricks was arrested at the scene after failing all three parts of a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST). She was taken to Naval Station Norfolk Police Headquarters where a breath sample showed her intoxication level to be 0.12 grams, more than the 0.8 grams legally permitted.

During an interview with Jaspreet Hunter at the hospital, police determined that the group had spent little time at the Raaz Hookah Lounge on Hampton Boulevard before heading to look for Baker on Newport Avenue. She remembers asking Ricks to slow down several times.

Ricks responded by saying, “No, I get it. I’m well. I’m not that drunk.

Hunter went on to estimate that Ricks had half a bottle of rum and a few shots of vodka before he got behind the wheel. The vehicle crash data reporter shows Ricks was traveling at 58 mph at the time of the crash – more than twice the posted limit.

Further inspection of the vehicle revealed bottles of rum and vodka, as well as cans of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Ricks will remain on bail until his conviction in April and faces up to 30 years in prison, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

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