Woman sentenced to 6 years for DUI crash that killed Prem and Pamela Sharma

Pran and Pamela Sharma were killed in a crash in March 2021. Rebecca Thuc Hoang Vo pleaded guilty to two counts of gross negligent manslaughter by vehicle for the deaths. MUST CREDIT: Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office

Neil and Ritu Sharma remember spending the Saturday with Neil’s parents, Pran and Pamela Sharma, dining and enjoying time together as they always did. The family matriarch and patriarch, living less than a mile away, would visit the couple’s house often.

As Pran and Pamela Sharma left to head to their home in North Potomac, Md., for the night, the family was looking forward to being together again the next day for their weekly Sunday dinner.

But on their way, a woman crashed into the couple’s car at Darnestown Road and Blackberry Drive in Gaithersburg, Md., on March 27.

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Rebecca Thuc Hoang Vo was arrested at the crash and charged with a DUI. She had been traveling 75 mph, about 2.5 times over the speed limit, authorities said. Pran Sharma, 74, was taken to a hospital, where he died a few days later. Pamela Sharma, 69, died overnight. Their dog, Tate, was taken to an animal hospital covered in gasoline with a severed spine, Ritu Sharma and Neil Sharma said.

“I love my grandparents very much, and I miss them so much,” said Jonathan McKnight, reading a victim impact statement from his daughter during Vo’s sentencing hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon.

Vo, 40, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of gross negligent manslaughter by a vehicle. Judge David Lease sentenced her to six years in prison and an additional five years of unsupervised probation.

The judge’s sentence matched that recommended in a plea deal reached between Vo’s attorney and prosecutors. The judge said he took into consideration Vo’s early guilty plea and acceptance of responsibility along with her completed alcohol treatment programs. He also issued a no-contact order with the Sharma family and notification of any offenses on probation including traffic violations, at the request of prosecutors.

Lease said these cases are “difficult” for everyone involved.

The aftermath of a fatal DUI crash that occurred March 27, 2021 at Darnestown Road and Blackberry Drive in Gaithersburg, Maryland. MUST CREDIT: Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services

When interviewed by police that night, police asked Vo how much she had to drink and she said, “I honestly don’t know,” according to prosecutors. She then said she had two glasses of wine at a near by establishment and that she started drinking around 2 p.m. and stopped around 5 p.m. Nearly 2½ hours after the crash, a breath-alcohol concentration test registered a result of 0.13.

In court Friday, Vo’s attorney Andrew Alpert went into detail about Vo’s extensive resume of professional work in humanitarianism and charities.

“Her entire adult career has been devoted to service,” Alpert said. He said Vo went through alcohol treatment programs and that “alcohol takes advantage of your judgments.”

Lease, however, said it wasn’t just Vo’s drunken driving that struck him, but also her recklessness. According to witness statements at an earlier hearing, Vo swerved in front of cars at an earlier intersection. Data obtained from the BMW she was driving showed her gas pedal was pressed down at its maximum seconds before the collision.

“Her driving was outrageous,” Lease said

During the sentencing hearing, family members recalled how much they loved the grandmother who doled out cuddles and the grandfather known for his compassion. Noana Issar-Grill said her sister and brother-in-law had recently retired and loved spending time with their family.

“They will never be able to enjoy their golden years,” Issar-Grill said.

Monica Sharma said she spoke to her parents multiple times a day. She and her mom were “best friends” and business partners in real estate. She now answers calls from her mother’s clients who call looking for her and has to explain and relive the trauma.

“Our lives have been destroyed,” Monica Sharma said.

Vo apologized to the family in court.

“I am deeply regretful for my irresponsible actions,” Vo said. “I am here today to take responsibility for my inexcusable behavior.”

After the sentencing, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy stressed the importance of having a designated driver or calling on a ride share service.

“We recognize that today nobody wins,” Neil Sharma said. “It is our hope that this is also a reminder to everybody that one bad decision can lead to catastrophic consequences.”

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