DWI Survivor Suffers from Spinal Injury

Kellie Stein’s life changed drastically one day when she fell victim to a drunk driver. Now she says she just “lays there” and that she “just exists.”

On the other side is Kristin Kealy who is a single mother who had no criminal record and her driving record was clean. One night, she made the wrong decision and reached 90 miles per hour on a Coon Rapids road. Her drunkenness and her speed caused her to rear-end a Pontiac Firebird driven by Stein.

Now Stein is paralyzed from the neck down due to a severe spinal injury. In August, she had to leave the hospital to tell an Anoka County judge about the accident and how it changed her life forever.

Stein, 32, had to be rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair by her boyfriend, who held the impact statement in front of her as she read it. She had dictated her statement to a hospital volunteer so she would be able to read it that day.

At first, her words were not audible as she spoke of the event. Kealy had been out drinking with friend at a Spring Lake Park Bar and at 1:30 a.m. was driving along Coon Rapids Boulevard at incredible speeds before crashing into Stein. A breath test showed that her BAC was .24, which was three times the .08 limit in Minnesota. At first, she told police she wasn’t driving.

As Stein continued to tell the judge about what occurred and the activities she can no longer perform on her own, her voice became stronger. She told him she cannot paint, garden, fish, or design landscapes. She does, however, plan on continuing her education, as she already has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and in psychology.

25-year-old Kealy received a one year jail sentence and said nothing to Stein during the court hearing. The judge sentenced her according to the sentencing guidelines, but he did tell Kealy that he would have sentenced her to spend more time in jail if he had more latitude to do so.

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