Driver Nearly Kills Officer In Horrific Crash, Only Gets Community Service

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A police officer barely escaped with his life and was out of work for more than 6 months after a driver slammed into his cruiser. However, the driver was let off with 100 hours of community service for a bizarre reason.

Maleaha Aquadro was given 100 hours of community service after crashing into and nearly killing Officer Matthew Knowlton. (Photo Credit: Northampton Police Department)

Northampton Officer Matthew Knowlton has been hailed a hero after rescuing a woman who crashed her vehicle into him, leaving him with serious injuries that didn’t fully heal half a year later. Unfortunately, the female driver walked away with little more than a slap on the wrist despite almost killing him.

Maleaha Lee Aquadro, 26, was driving more than twice the speed limit when she slammed into Officer Knowlton’s police cruiser. She was traveling 76 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone along Route 66 when as she crossed over the center lines and struck the officer head-on. Aquadro was intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, according to The Police Tribune.

Maleaha Aquadro, 26, was going 76 miles per hour when she drove head-on into Northampton Officer Matthew Knowlton’s cruiser. (Photo Credit: Northampton Police Department)

Although his leg was broken, Officer Knowlton proceeded to cut off his seatbelt and climb out the driver’s side window to rescue Aquadro. The woman wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and suffered a serious head injury. Afraid that her car would catch fire, Officer Knowlton rescued her from the vehicle and brought her to safety.

“He risked his own life to save the life of Miss Aquadro,” Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Andrew Covington told the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Because of Aquadro’s decision to drive drunk, Officer Knowlton suffered life-changing injuries. For more than six months, he was unable to return to work but hoped to resume his duties, WGGB reports.

“Knowlton has been out of work since the collision, undergone multiple surgeries, engaged in physical therapy and endured what he told the court was the worst pain of his life,” notes NWDA’s Office representative, Laurie Loisel.

Matthew Knowlton
Despite suffering a broken leg, Officer Matthew Knowlton climbed out of his cruiser and rescued Maleaha Aquadro from her car. (Photo Credit: Northampton Police Department)

Despite the brutal nature of the crash, many were shocked by the trial’s outcome. Instead of felony charges for almost killing Officer Knowlton, Aquadro has received just two years of probation and must complete 100 hours of community service. Unbelievably, she acquired the incredibly lax sentence through a plea deal which was agreed upon by Officer Knowlton.

“It’s a miracle we’re both standing here in court.. I want to make sure it gives Miss Aquadro a chance to learn from this and understand it’s an accident, but it could have ended my life or both of our lives. I forgive Miss Aquadro and I just want to move on from this and I wish the same for her as well.”

Apparently, Officer Knowlton agreed to the soft punishment because he felt that Aquadro was truly remorseful for her actions. However, just two months after the crash, she denied the charges in her first court appearance.

We’re told while the Commonwealth could have pursued felony charges against Aquadro…but because she “has been remorseful and immediately sought to take responsibility for her actions, the agreement seemed in the interest of justice,” says Andrew Covington, the Northwestern Assistant District Attorney.

Maleaha Aquadro was spared prison because Officer Matthew Knowlton agreed to a plea deal giving her only probation. (Photo Credit: Cottonbro via Pexels)

Aquadro is required to complete a driver alcohol education program, participate in recommended treatment, and take random alcohol tests throughout her probation. She was also given a one-year suspension of her license.

In explaining the plea agreement and recommended sentence, Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Andrew Covington said Aquadro made “horrific, terrible decisions that put her life and other lives in danger. This is not a slap on the wrist.”

Aquadro evaded felonies that could have resulted in years in prison. Now, she only faces a maximum of 2-and-a-half years in jail if she violates the conditions of her probation.

Aquadro also sent a letter of apology to Knowlton, which she read aloud in court. “I’m very sorry for the pain and suffering and emotional toll this has caused you and your family. I wish you the best and I thank you for your service.”

Matthew Knowlton
Officer Matthew Knowlton believes Maleaha Aquadro is remorseful. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Aquadro’s sentence is far too lenient given the crime. The moment she put her car in drive, she endangered everyone on the road and could have easily taken the life of another. The fact that her victim miraculously survived shouldn’t minimize the seriousness of her actions.

We can’t truly know if Aquadro is sorry for her actions or just sorry she got caught. However, it’s likely that this wasn’t the first time she drove drunk. For every DUI a person gets, there are almost always dozens of times they drove intoxicated without getting caught. That’s why this type of crime shouldn’t be taken so lightly.