UPDATE Driver in multi-vehicle accident under the influence of alcohol, police say | News

Theresa Risso was under the influence of alcohol on Friday night when she hit three vehicles and seriously injured one occupant before flipping her BMW with her 1 1/2-year-old daughter in the backseat on the roof of a restaurant Shamokin Dam, borough police chief told Timothy Bremigen.

“Alcohol was a big factor in the incident,” said Bremigen, who wouldn’t reveal Risso’s blood alcohol level at the time of the accident.

Risso remained in critical condition at Geisinger on Monday afternoon, a supervising nurse said.

James Haught, of Shamokin Dam, who is 47 today, suffered a broken back, broken ribs and other injuries, said Christine Haught, his wife of 23 years. He was also in critical condition Monday at Geisinger.

Christine Haught plans to attend a debriefing offered to victims and witnesses of the violent crash today from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Shamokin Dam Borough Office by police and members of ACCESS EAP.

Bremigen said the investigation into Friday’s crash is continuing and charges are expected.

Risso, a 43-year-old mother of two from Selinsgrove, has a previous conviction for impaired driving, court records show. The first was in 2002 in Union County and the second conviction in 2009 in Columbia County, for which she was placed under house arrest for 18 months.

Risso was driving with her toddler daughter when she was seen driving erratically in the south lane of Routes 11-15 around 5:45 p.m. Friday. She struck a vehicle on Baldwin Avenue and another vehicle on Eighth Avenue at the Shamokin Dam before crossing the northbound lane, hitting a utility pole, a concrete barrier and a van parked at Golden Chopsticks Restaurant, 3004 N Susquehanna Trail, occupied by the Haughts, before Risso’s vehicle took off and came to rest on its wheels on the roof of the restaurant.

Rizzo’s toddler was pulled from a car seat by an off-duty state trooper. She was taken to Geisinger and discharged a day later without any injuries.

Surveillance video from a business across the street captured Risso’s 2017 BMW traveling at very high speed, hitting Haught’s pickup truck and flipping over twice before coming to rest on its roof.

Christine Haught described a scary scene and said she was still traumatized by the accident.

She was in the driver’s seat and he was in the passenger’s seat waiting for their food order when she felt a jarring shock that pushed her back and forth.

“I looked to my right and the building was on fire. I thought someone had dropped a bomb,” Christine Haught said.

Bremigen said the fire started when the engine of Risso’s BMW fell and hit the restaurant.

Haught jumped out of the car and went to the passenger side to help her husband, who had undergone knee surgery two days earlier, out of the crashed vehicle.

He was more concerned about her as he made three trips from their damaged vehicle to retrieve his wife’s cellphones and glasses, she said.

“He thought he was fine and wanted me checked out,” said Haught, who suffered minor bumps and bruises.

At the hospital, it was determined that James Haught had been seriously injured.

Christine Haught said she was grateful to people who rushed from nearby businesses to put out the fire and help her and her husband. She’s also thankful the accident didn’t happen a minute earlier when her husband was looking under the hood of the van.

“He would have been killed,” she said. “I am still shocked.”

Haught said she was furious to learn that Risso was under the influence.

“Oh my God. How could someone be so…stupid? It will be a very difficult time for us and knowing that only makes things worse,” she said.

Bremigen said he wanted to offer victims, like Haught, first responders and witnesses a chance to talk about the incident with trained mental health professionals.

“I’ve learned that you never know how these events will affect you,” he said. At least two people involved remained distraught a day after the accident. Bremigen therefore scheduled the debriefing and his office contacted about 15 people.

Information and advice will be given by the professionals to better prepare or mitigate problems related to the accident in the future.

“Ultimately, the goal will be to educate those affected before a mental health crisis occurs. This is a proactive approach for the benefit of those citizens and staff who have witnessed an event that rises above the level of “most accidents given the number of vehicles and a child involved.

Anyone unable to attend can contact Bremigen at 570-743-2671 for assistance.

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