A Sumner woman who was sending Facebook messages on her phone while driving received probation after pleading guilty to a September 2019 accident in Sumner.
According to court records, Melissa Dawn Nickerson, 33, was sentenced by Associate District Court Judge Peter B. Newell to a suspended five-year prison term and was placed on probation for three to five years on a charge of serious injury by vehicle, a Class D felony. Her fine of $1,025 was also suspended, but she was ordered to pay a total of $81,750 in restitution, plus court costs.
In an accident report with the Bremer County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a three-vehicle accident at 5:15 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019, near the Liquid Glass plant in Sumner along Iowa Highway 93. Nickerson was driving a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan eastbound and approached at stopped 2010 Chevrolet Colorado driven by Jeffrey Ray Bloom, now 58, of Fredericksburg.
At the time of the accident, Nickerson told law enforcement that she had a dizzy spell and had looked down for a second before her SUV collided with the compact pickup. The force of the collision pushed the truck into the path of a westbound 2016 Ford Escape, driven by Trace Jane Waddell, now 51, of Sumner.
All three drivers and two passengers were taken to UnityPoint Health-Community Memorial Hospital in Sumner for various injuries. Bloom was disabled below his waist as a result.
In follow-up interviews with deputies, according to court documents, Nickerson admitted that she was looking at her phone’s Facebook app and was communicating through the Messenger function with another party. Deputies seized the phone and confirmed that account based on extracted data.
As part of the probation, Nickerson was ordered to abstain from alcohol and other mood-altering substances and stay out of establishments that sell alcohol as their main form of revenue. She also must complete a substance abuse and mental health evaluation and follow any recommended treatment and be subject to random drug and alcohol testing.
For her restitution, she must pay Bloom $57,705 and another $24,045 to the Iowa Crime Victims Compensation Fund.