Woman convicted in crash that killed high school sweethearts

Sarah Elizabeth Dowdy (Credit: Paulding County Sheriff's Office)
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Sarah Elizabeth Dowdy (Credit: Paulding County Sheriff's Office)

A woman initially charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide in a crash that killed two high school sweethearts was convicted on two counts felony vehicular homicide, serious injury by vehicle charges, reckless driving, and speeding charges.

The conviction comes more than two years after authorities initially cleared Sarah Elizabeth Dowdy of any other wrong doing in the fatal crash and found slain driver Janeal Priester, 18, at fault, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Dowdy was sentenced to 20 years with 10 to serve in prison, Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan said in a release.

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Janeal Priester, 18, and boyfriend Nicholas Wright, 17, were killed in a June 2015 crash in Dallas. Sarah Elizabeth Dowdy was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges in the crash. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Janeal Priester, 18,  and boyfriend Nicholas Wright, 17, were killed in a June 2015 crash in Dallas. Sarah Elizabeth Dowdy was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges in the crash. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)
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Janeal Priester, 18, and boyfriend Nicholas Wright, 17, were killed in a June 2015 crash in Dallas. Sarah Elizabeth Dowdy was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges in the crash. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Priester, brother Joshua Priester and boyfriend Nicholas Wright were headed to visit the Priesters’ mother in the hospital on June 17, 2015 when they were struck by Dowdy at the intersection of Old Villa Rica Road and Ga. 61 in Dallas. Dowdy was driving 75 mph in a 55 mph lane, Donovan said.

The preliminary investigation claimed Priester failed to yield in her 2003 Oldsmobile Alero and was struck on the driver’s side by Dowdy’s 2007 Toyota Camry, the AJC previously reported. High school sweethearts Janeal Priester and Wright, 17, died at the scene. Joshua Priester, then 16, was flown to Grady Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. Dowdy was taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital.

The investigation changed course, however, when a witness came forward and said Dowdy along with someone in a Ford Mustang were driving erratically and speeding up and slowing down before the crash. Authorities re-investigated the case and charged Dowdy more than a year after the crash.

She was taken into custody immediately following the four-day trial.

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