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Brushton teen to spend summmer vacation in jail

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MALONE - A 17-year-old Brushton teen who admitted her responsibility in a Dec. 7, 2011 car wreck that claimed her friend’s life and left another with traumatic brain injuries was sentenced Monday to probation plus jail time and fines after being granted youthful offender status byFranklin County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr.

Tanya Menke will spend the next five years on probation and will spend 45 days in the Franklin County Jail, starting on July 1 of next year. She was additionally ordered to pay $8,616.15 in fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution to the Collette family for lost wages while tending to their recovering daughter. Menke was ordered to comply with a 31-item list of probationary conditions. It includes abiding by a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, completing drug and alcohol counseling, not using any social networking media and speaking before a victim impact panel at least once a year for the next five years. She will be on electronic home monitoring pending her jail term.

Menke was the driver of a vehicle that crashed in the town of Brandon on Dec. 7 and killed Brooke Lyon, 16, of Brushton and left Alexis Collette, 18, of Brushton with severe head injuries. All three were juniors at Brushton-Moira Central School at the time of the accident.

An unlicensed operator and under the influence of marijuana, Menke was piloting a 1999 Volkswagen Beetle in dense fog and crashed into a tree. She was attempting to steer south onto County Route 15 from McGowan Road, missed a stop sign, slid across the road, and crashed.

Lyon, the front-seat passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene. Alexis Collette, the rear-seat passenger, and Menke were taken to Alice Hyde Medical Center and then to Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington, Vt. Collette continues to recover from a traumatic brain injury.

“I hope other kids out there realize you can’t drive without a license, and just as importantly you can’t drive under the influence of drugs,” District Attorney Derek Champagne said Monday afternoon. “I just hope the community can begin to heal. Cases like this are just so difficult. There’s nothing our office can do to make this right.”

When asked if he felt the court was either too harsh or too lenient in handing out a jail sentence, he replied “No matter who you talk to, the jail sentence will be too strict or not strict enough.”

Alexis Collette’s mother, Stacy Collette, said she believes the court went too easy on Menke.

“Drug dealers get more time. They didn’t kill anyone, and they get more time than this girl did,” she said Monday afternoon.

Stacy Collette added that her daughter recently contracted an infection in her skull. A piece of the bone had to be removed, and she must wear a helmet at least until July and will have to undergo cosmetic surgery to repair the damage, in addition to at least one more round of brain surgery. She said her daughter is expected to recover from the infection.

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