Monday, June 8, 2009

She Drank Martinis, Drove 115 MPH and Allegedly Killed This Smiling Mother of Four

Hunt for Justice
by Cynthia Hunt

This isn’t one of my flashier posts about chasing a serial killer or another high profile crime that I have covered. It is about an
alleged killer—a woman who investigators say got wasted at a martini bar, jumped behind the wheel of her car, and drove it 100 mph into the back of an innocent mother’s vehicle. (Cheryl Guberman, pictured left, died in the accident)

If you think you are mad now, wait until you hear what Pamela Pugh allegedly said after the crash.

Officers Say Pugh Made Up a Big Lie

Constables on the scene say Pugh told them an elaborate story of how another car cut her off, caused her to hit the toll road’s concrete barrier, and then fled the scene. Deputies could not see Guberman’s truck which had actually plunged into the dark woods 44 feet below and down the road from where Pugh stopped.

Two hours later the husband and son of 44-year-old Cheryl Guberman found her dead in her wrecked vehicle. That night, Cheryl was simply driving on the Hardy Toll Road, the road that many Houstonians take to the airport, to pick up one of her sons.
Cheryl was a mom of four.

Technology Tells On Pamela

Officers, who didn’t know about the real victim, did know one thing. They say Pugh stunk like booze and could not balance. The experienced defendant refused to take a breath test or to submit to field sobriety tests so officers arrested her and took her in for a good ‘ole blood test. (Pamela Pugh, pictured below)

Technology is a great thing.

Pugh’s blood alcohol content showed she was 0.19—more than double the state’s legal limit.

Technology disproved Pugh’s story in another big way.

Car Computer Proves Pugh Drove 115 MPH

The computer on Pugh’s Chrysler Sebring shows she was driving 115 mph five seconds before the crash and 100 mph one-tenth of a second before impact. The computer also shows that Pugh slammed into Guberman without ever hitting her brakes.

Pugh, who was at first charged with DWI, now faces charges of intoxication manslaughter thanks to all that technology.

Technology could have …and should have…saved Cheryl Guberman’s life.

Can We Charge The Texas Senate with Intoxication Manslaughter Too?

Two weeks before Cheryl was killed, the Texas House passed a bill requiring people convicted of drunk driving to have an ignition interlock device installed on their car. The Texas Senate never even held one hearing. I’m sure the Senators were busy with more important matters like talking to lobbyists.

It probably won’t surprise you that Pugh was convicted of drunk driving in 2007.

It’s no secret that convicted drunk drivers continue to drink and continue to drive. I’ve done the story. Other reporters continue to do the story.
Studies prove it. Graves illustrate it. The devastated families left behind can tell you about it.

Jury Sentences Texas Drunk to 75 Years in Prison for Ninth DWI

Just outside of Houston, TX in Brazoria County, a jury just sent Keith Peltier to prison for 75 years. It was his ninth DWI conviction. Peltier’s attorney Jon Jaworski says the sentence is too severe and that his client was not drunk but in diabetic shock.

Really Jon?

You expected a jury of fine Texans to believe that one? Even if you are right, your client should have been locked up years ago. It shouldn’t take nine DWI convictions to get these liquored-up killing machines off the road.

As for Pugh, she has now hired defense attorney Troy McKinney, a man the
Houston Chronicle says is known for successfully defending DWI cases.

My heart breaks for all the Guberman children. One of Cheryl’s sons graduated from high school the same week his mother was killed.

Technology could save the lives of other moms like Cheryl if the Texas legislature would simply do its job and use it. Perhaps the Senators can make time in their busy calendars to schedule a hearing and listen to Cheryl's husband of 23 years or her four children…especially the son who helped his dad find his mom’s body.


FleaStiff said...

Will we have Designated Breathers to start people's interlock-equipped cars? P'sst... wanna buy some compressed breath to squirt into the machine? How many drunk drivers do you think will trade in their brand new Cadilacs for a Model-T because it doesn't have an interlock?
One judge took heat when he sentenced a man to live within one block of a bar.
Many people appearing in court on a DUI sentencing couldn't pass a breathalyzer test right there in the courtroom!
I don't know how many responsible drinkers there were in Texas that night, but we have an entire industry that pushes booze and a wide variety of customers some of whom are probably very nice, responsible people most of the time. Gun safes might be nice too, but do we really want laws mandating them?

Roci said...

We have also discovered that repeat drunk drivers still drive drunk, even when their licenses are revoked. I don't understand why habitual drunk drivers can't get drunk at home like everyone else.

FleaStiff said...

Part of the drinking experience may be the social interaction and the familiar surroundings that define a bar: bartender, lights, seating, signs, etc. Their homes are TOO familiar to them: filth, noise, bills... its what drives them to drink in the first place. Or else their jobs do ... thats why they make it to the bar but don't make it home.

Leah said...

My GFs adult son lives in Dallas and was convicted of his 3rd DWI about 3 years ago. He has one of those things in his car and he gets his 8 year old son to blow into it for him so his car will start. So....where there's a will, there's a way. That device, all by itself isn't the answer.

Soobs said...

She should have been charged with murder. She knowingly drank, got into her car, and drove. End of story.

As for the guy....he's just a murder waiting to happen. Diabetic shock? Then obviously, he took no more care with his health, than drinking and driving. He deserves his sentence.

Cynthia Hunt said...

Thanks for all your comments. I know an interlock system isn't THE answer to everything...I just think if she had one that night, she wouldn't have been able to drive and hopefully a friend would not have blown on it for her. I shudder to think just think how many times my mom has picked me up at the airport. This could've been any of our mothers. Senseless tragedy. I do think 1 DWI should mandate an interlock system on the person's car for the next 5 years. WE must do more to protect the innocent from the people who drink and drive. WE must limit the rights of people convicted of DWI's to protect moms like Cheryl.

thanks again for all of your thoughts...I am always humbled that you read my posts!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you also Cynthia but I also think our State as well as the Government need to look at all areas of people driving not only drinking but texting, talking on phone while driving, etc. A friend of mine was killed a few years back on his way home from teaching all day. A young girl who also had just left school was texting and not paying attention hit a car in fron t of her which then hit my friend who was pushed into a school bus and pinned under. Bottom line she got her license suspended for 1 year and had to do some ridulous amount of community hours. This guy had a wife, 5 children and grandchildren. He was is the prime of his life! Cheryl and her family are in my prayers. I only wish there was something or some petition we could get started to bring to Senate.
Thank you for keeping us informed and keep doing it!

Anonymous said...

In an attempt to finally answer the question, "who took the test?" some interlocks have a camera module that can be added by order of the judge. It takes a picture of whoever blows into the unit. Charges can and should be pressed against those who knowingly try to circumvent the system just to drink and drive, especially when they endanger children.

Jan C, said...

Driving is a privilege, not a right. When this privilege is abused, it should be taken away. After repeated abuse; permanently.

A car is a lethal weapon just as much as a gun is in the wrong hands.

Leah said...

I think a better idea is to have people take a breathalyzer as they are exiting the bar or reataraunt or whatever and if they are over the limit, they don't get to drive home. Not sure what you could do about the people who drink at home and then drive. But if establishements are essentially liable for those who drink too much and have an accident, they ought to be the ones who have the breathalyzers and do the testing. At least this way, a sober human being is the one makeing hte decision rather than am inebreiated [sp] one.

JCupit said...

Very good article Ms. Hunt. inter-lock devices are a good stop gap...PRISON is a better one...Mrs. Guberman is a murder victim no less than had the dwi driver took a knife and killed her. Her family is devestated. Her childrens lives will never be the same. We pray justice will we done in this case!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Hunt,

I really appreciate the tender nature of your article and the information I received regarding the state senate. I am a friend of the Guberman's and struggle each day when thinking of my friend Cheryl. As I see her children each day, I am reminded of what she is missing and what a loss it is to them--to all of us! Somehow, the fact that we all have an additional angel watching over us does not seem to comfort me when I think of how Cheryl died so early and so tragically. When I have mentioned the machine attached to the auto for a previously convicted driver, people bring up the "rights of the driver" and that they have "done their time". The problem is that they have an illness and obviously, need assistance in controlling the actions of their illness. Their reward for blowing into the machine sober will be that their car will start (I am pleased to hear about camera and a photo taken of the car "starter") I ask myself,"why didn't a friend that was drinking with Pamela take her keys away that night?" However, since she was a repeat offender, I guess she could have been a pro at hiding it. When I think of the other "distracting" acts in an auto, it gets foggy because I have almost been hit by "a woman putting on makeup", "a man lighting a cigar", "a person reading a paper map", "a young man eating his McDonald lunch", and the list goes on & on. Where do we begin to monitor/punish and how is it done? I am confused and bewildered. All I know is that alcohol is illegal at 2 times the limit and that is a crime. I thank you for your information and plan on writing the Senate for the DWI Bill that was passed to see if my voice will make a difference. Cheryl cannot be saved but she was the kind of person that would want me to save someone else. We miss her terribly!! A friend

Hog Hunting Texas said...

This is very bad should be punished. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I know Pam Pugh. I worked with her for 3 years. She is a liar and more than likely lied to the officers.

Anonymous said...

About Mrs Gubermans death:
We should not condemn these people to go to jail for few years or make them pay a fine of $ 15,000 + ..."Mansllaughter ???" No, no, no !!! That should be a DEATH SENTENCE, but sadly our country will endup almost empty, so many drung drivers. But we could live better. Now, think about it who allowed this drug to run on our streets on our country?? We all know who, then condemn those who sign and allowed the drug to run free on our streets killing good people, check where that root comes from... IN GOD WE TRUST!

Anonymous said...

In 1977 a Drunk Driver hit me and tried ti get away. I died on the scene but thanks God the EMS brought me back and I came out from the hospital 1½ month later. Now, I could not walk normal any more but took me 1 year and I took another six months to learn how to walk. Today, 33 years later still do not walk well and have all kind of problems, have had 12 surgeries on both legs and not to long ago had a knee replaced and need to do the other but I cannot afford having it to much money already spent to much plus I fear at this age (58) for another surgery. Since then my eyes have seen several deaths, killed by drunk drivers, people, friends and family and have arrested many but that have not help any. So I say in the preceding article about DEATH SENTECE, it will be the best for all of us who are responsible. Remember I am talking about DRUNK DRIVERS. Many countries around the world have this law: If you get cut "driving drunk", you'll get shot on spot and tell you in a population of 6 million only 20 people have been killed by drunk drivers and of those 20 DD, 7 were sentence by citizens and 13 by police. MMMmmm...