A 22-year-old man from Fairfax County who gunned his mother’s BMW over a hill, went airborne, and struck a tree while driving under the influence last year, resulting in the death of one passenger and another being put in a vegetative state, received a 3-year prison sentence on October 24.
On the day of the sentencing, the courtroom of Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush was packed with the friends and relatives of 18-year-old Morgan Cooke and 24-year-old Daniel Fath in order to recount how the November 28 crash on Wolf Run Shoals Road in Fairfax Station devastated their lives.
The driver, Christopher Plaisier, a longtime friend of Cooke and Fath, testified that he did not feel that he was intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana when he got behind the BMW 540i’s wheel after drinking and eating at two bars on the night of the crash.
Shortly after 8:30 p.m., Plaisier, with Cooke in the front passenger seat and Fath and another young man in the back, turned off Route 123 and onto Wolf Run Shoals. According to Kevin Cooke, Cooke’s eldest brother, Plaisier accelerated over a hill, a place notorious for drivers “catching air,” lost control, went airborne, and crashed into the tree seven feet off the ground.
Cooke lived for five days and underwent multiple surgical procedures before her death on December 3. Fath suffered severe brain trauma, spent six months in the hospital, and is currently in an Alexandria long-term-care nursing home.
According to prosecutors, Plaisier had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08, the legal limit, and there was also marijuana in his blood. He pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol and faced a sentence of 1-10 years in prison.
State sentencing guidelines suggest a maximum sentence of six months, but Roush said it was inappropriate. She sentenced Plaisier to 10 years, suspended seven, and added five years of probation and 100 hours of community service in addition to revoking his driver’s license.