Woman Killed by Daytona Beach Drunk Driver in Front of Son

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

On the evening of June 24, 2014, 45-year-old mother of seven Elizabeth Braly was walking on the beach in Daytona Beach Shores with her 21-year-old son and his wife while taking pictures.  Around 9:30, Shawn Doolan, from New Smyrna Beach, was speeding when he crashed his 2002 Nissan through the closed gate for the Dunlawton Boulevard beach access ramp and hit a tollbooth.  Moments later, he hit Braly on the beach in front of her son and dozens of witnesses on the beach and in nearby condos.

911 calls from the incident report that the car may have been on top of Braly and then was moved.  According to the police report, her son took the keys out of the ignition to keep Doolan from driving anymore.  Despite attempts to save her life, Braly died at the scene.

Police reports state that Doolan smelled of alcohol, had red, watery eyes and was slurring his speech at the scene.  He failed field sobriety tests and refused to speak to police after being given a Miranda warning.  His blood was drawn at the hospital after police got a search warrant.  Doolan was charged with various crimes, including DUI manslaughter.

In interviews with the victim’s husband, Mark Braly, he said that the family was in mourning and that the son who witnessed the accident was not doing well.  He also said that the family is using their faith to get them through this tragedy.  Mark Braly also stated that he felt bad for Doolan since “he’s got to live through it, too” and that he felt bad for Doolan’s family since they are also an innocent party.

The highest charge that Doolan is facing in this case is for DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony.  This means that Doolan is facing up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine along with other possible punishments, including a 3-year suspension of his driver’s license.  This does not include the lifetime penalties that all felons must face in Florida and on a federal level, including the inability to purchase or own a firearm, the inability to vote and the inability to hold some professional licenses.

It also appears that police took a number of steps to make sure that the case against Doolan will be a strong one.  They specifically noted in their report that they not only explained to Doolan what his Miranda rights were, but it appears they also had him read them and sign off that he understood them.  They also took the extra step of getting a search warrant to get his blood sample to show what his blood alcohol is, something that will leave that aspect of his case less up to chance and will make it hard for evidence gained by that sample to be thrown out.  These things, along with the fact that there are reportedly dozens of witnesses to the accident, means that Doolan may have quite a difficult case to win.