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Parents Awarded $8 Million In Suit Against Drunken Driver

April 29, 1985

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) _ A couple whose two daughters were killed by a drunken driver returning from an all-night party have been awarded $8.12 million.

But their lawyer, Jacob Stein, said the couple probably will collect only about $40,000 from the driver’s insurance.

Gerald Lawson, 50, said he and his wife, Lida, 47, turned down a $40,000 out-of-court settlement because they wanted the court case to send a message that would encourage tougher drunken driving laws. They were awarded the damages by a Prince George’s County jury Friday.

″People who drink and then kill someone with their car should be treated the same way as someone who drinks and then shoots someone with a shotgun,″ Lawson said.

The Lawsons’ daughters, Colleen, 11, and Jacqueline, 7, were killed in August 1982 when their mother’s car was struck by a vehicle driven by a woman later convicted of her second alcohol-related driving offense.

Cheryle Roxanne White, 34, of Beltsville, was released after serving one year of two concurrent two-year prison terms for her conviction of reckless driving and two counts of vehicular homicide while intoxicated, her lawyer said.

Ms. White was found guilty nine years earlier of driving while impaired, said Ronald Bevans, the state police officer who investigated the accident that killed the Lawson girls.

Colleen died at the scene of the crash. Jacqueline died four days later. They were riding with their mother and older brother to visit relatives in Cincinnati.

Mrs. Lawson and her son, Gerald, Jr., 19, were not severely injured.

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