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Woman sentenced in crash that killed girl

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Posted at 10:12 PM, Dec 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-17 00:14:09-05

Accompanied by her mother, six-year-old Ambrosia Amalathithada was walking home from school on March 14, 2012. The two were excited, as they were on their way to pick out some candy for Ambrosia as a special treat. But halfway across the road at 1500 South and State Street, everything suddenly changed.

“It’s hard to deal with. My daughter is gone, and I still don’t want to believe it,” said her mother, Natalie Amalathithada.

As they made their way into the cross walk, authorities said Janeen Lundberg, 47, swerved to miss another car and plowed into them. Ambrosia died from her injuries.

“Both of my legs were broken,” said Amalathithada. “I have a rod from my knee to my ankle in my left leg and a plate in my right leg. My pelvis is broken in three places.”

But her greatest pain comes from what can’t be fixed.

“The worst part of everything is she took my daughter from me,” Amalathithada said. “I will never get to see my daughter again, and no excuse or apology will ever be good enough for taking my child’s life.”

On Monday, Lundberg was sentenced to up to five years in prison. Under a plea agreement, Lundberg pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and driving under the influence of drugs. Both are third degree felonies, which carry a maximum five-year sentence each. However, the judge ordered Lundberg serve the terms concurrently.

According to prosecutors, Lundberg was drowsy from a mix of prescription medication when she hit Amalathithada and her daughter.

“To me, I think we’re all probably not in a position to cast the first stone. Who hasn’t had the opportunity or the event of coming upon a car in front of you, and we have to take aggressive action to either stop or evade a collision,” said Lundberg’s defense attorney, John Walsh.

In court, prosecutors said Lundberg knew better than to get behind the wheel that day, though, and she had even taken caffeine supplements just 15 minutes prior to the crash.

“She wants to express her just heartfelt sorrow for what a tragedy it’s been and what heartache it’s caused,” Walsh said.

The Board of Pardons will decide how much of the potential five-year sentence Lundberg will actually spend in prison. She has been in custody since November 2012.