Accused drunk driver has bond revoked, to receive mental health evaluation

(Photo credit: Haywood County Sheriff's Office)

In the case of an accused drunk driver who hit a woman's car, injuring them both, the court has revoked Karen Wheeler's bond and committed her to Central Hospital for a mental health examination.

This is the outcome Randall Garrett had hoped for. He is the father of Stacey Garrett, the woman whose brain was damaged in the wreck Wheeler is accused of causing.

"For the first time in 2,286 nights, Randall Garrett will sleep in peace, knowing that Wheeler is not out there, somewhere, on the highways," wrote Ellen T. Pitt, of MADD WNC, to News 13 in an email.

Forty-two-year-old Wheeler was charged in 2011. The case stalled over questions of her competency, and she now faces new drug charges.

The December 2011 collision on New Leicester Highway in Buncombe County left both Wheeler and Garrett with brain injuries.

“She doesn't understand things, she's not able to talk,” Garrett said of his daughter's condition.

Wheeler was charged with felony DWI, felony serious injury, and other crimes.

Wheeler had been released, the DA's office said, into her mother's custody. The DA’s office also filed a report with the Haywood County Department of Social Services - Adult Protective Services, reporting that Wheeler, who is on release to the custody of her mother in the criminal case, is a neglected dependent adult who is not being supervised, and requesting an investigation.

She remained out on bond, and in October 2014 she was charged with shoplifting liquor from a Haywood County ABC store. A Haywood County judge then ruled on the larceny charge that she lacked the capacity to stand trial.

In late February 2018, as a passenger in a car, Wheeler was arrested by Waynesville police and charged with possession of methamphetamine, morphine, and drug paraphernalia.

Garrett told us previously that almost seven years is too long to wait for accountability for his daughter, a young woman whose life is changed forever.

“Unless we can get this woman off the road, get her into a rehab program, give her a second chance at life, that's all we're asking,” he told us last week.

With this new decision, Randall Garrett might at last have a chance at what he sought for so long.

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