DUI driver sentenced to 16 years in state penitentiary

Laura Beasley in court, Nick Townsend

SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A woman who pleaded guilty in a crash that killed a Portland teenager the weekend of his high school graduation was sentenced Friday to 16 years in the state penitentiary.

Laura Beasley drove drunk the night of May 15, 2015 and hit another car head-on on Highway 52 in Portland. She had a 2-year-old child in her car at the time.

Nick Townsend, 17, was injured and died two days later. He was supposed to graduate from Portland High School that same weekend.

Townsend’s girlfriend and her mother were also injured in the crash, and both spoke at Beasley’s hours-long hearing Friday.

Nick Townsend, left, practicing for graduation the day of the crash on May 15, 2015.
Nick Townsend, left, practicing for graduation the day of the crash on May 15, 2015.

“I looked back, in the back seat, or what used to be the back seat, and Nick was laying in a fetal position over my daughter like he was protecting her and they were holding hands,” said the mother, Samantha Williams.

“And that’s when my daughter looked at him and told me what she saw. His head was split open,” she continued. “So I told her, I just kept telling her, ‘Don’t look at him. We’re going to get him out of here as fast as we can, but you have to look at me the whole time.'”

Her daughter Adriana Gentry also testified, saying, “I heard a noise that I can never get out of my head. And, um, I saw, I let go of Nick’s hand and saw his head split open.”

Beasley was the last to testify on Friday. She said she takes full responsibility for her actions.

“It’s all devastating and I feel awful. There’s no words I can say that actually say how I feel.”

“You know what you did was wrong?”

“Yes, I take full responsibility.”

Beasley’s sentence breaks down to 10 years for vehicular homicide and two three-year sentences for vehicular assault.