Decorated Marine hurt by drunk driver shares recovery story - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Decorated Marine hurt by drunk driver shares recovery story

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A decorated Marine nearly killed by a drunk driver, says he has forgiven the 22-year-old woman who hit him and drove away.

On Saturday, News 8's Adrienne Moore sat down with Gunnery Sergeant David Smith, who shared his story of recovery, closure and dreams for the future.


SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman who was drunk when she hit a decorated Marine from behind on his motorcycle, leaving him with critical injuries that doctors initially thought would kill him, was sentenced Friday to four years and four months in prison.

Jessica Marie Bloom, 22, pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to felony charges of DUI causing injury and hit-and-run.

The crash left Gunnery Sgt. David W. Smith with numerous injuries, including a partial decapitation, lacerated kidney, lacerated liver and bleeding on the brain.

Smith, a Bronze Star recipient for valor, was comatose for two days, paralyzed completely for two of three days and on life support for 10 days.

He was eastbound on Bernardo Center Drive near West Bernardo Drive about 12:30 p.m. last July 31 when he was hit from behind -- while waiting at a red light -- by Bloom, who was driving a Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

The collision launched the victim onto the hood of the mid-size SUV, then into the street, said prosecutor Matthew Williams.

The prosecutor said Bloom got out of the vehicle and appeared to be upset, frantically asking witnesses, "Is he dead?"

The defendant loaded her front bumper into her SUV and drove off, but witnesses followed her to her apartment a short distance away and called police, Williams said.

After her arrest, Bloom's blood-alcohol level was measured at .37 percent, more than four times the legal limit for driving, according to the prosecutor.

Smith, an 18-year-old Marine Corps veteran who has completed several tours of duty in Iraq and survived a roadside bomb attack, told Bloom today that he had forgiven her even before she wrote letters to him asking for forgiveness.

"I'm not the type of person who holds grudges," the 35-year-old Marine told the defendant.

Smith told Bloom that he wished they'd met on different terms, but her actions that day are making it difficult for him to retire after 20 years and pursue his goal of going into law enforcement.

"It's a very selfish, selfish act," Smith said. "Not only did it affect me, but the rest of her family."

Smith, who works as a training chief at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and is engaged to be married, said he harbored "zero hard feelings" toward the woman who hit him.

Smith, who still suffers from double vision and lack of mobility in his neck, said his surgeon was amazed when he walked out of the hospital three weeks after the horrific crash.

Before she was sentenced, Bloom apologized to Smith and said she never wants to drink again.

She said the accident has changed her life.

"I made a very poor choice to drink and drive," Bloom said. "I'm so sorry for everything that happened. He was an innocent victim."

Bloom's husband, Joshua McAnally, said his wife is a caring person.

"This was a horrific event for both of our families," he said.

According to defense attorney Peter Liss, Bloom left the crash scene because she wanted to tell McAnally, who is also a Marine, what had happened.

Bloom -- who at the time had been married for eight months -- might have been distraught and feeling alone because her husband was about to be deployed, Liss said.

"She clearly regrets her actions," Liss said.

Judge Theodore Weathers said it was "beyond belief" and "beyond comprehension" that Bloom consumed so much alcohol that day, calling the defendant an alcoholic.

"I don't know how you were alive," the judge said.

Attorneys said Bloom was arrested in Indiana for driving under the influence in November 2008.

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