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Former Elba principal sentenced to 10 years for causing wreck

A former Elba elementary school principal has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to reduced charges in Geneva County Court Wednesday.

Debra Johnson Strickland, 38, of Samson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and a lesser felony charge in connection with a June 5, 2021, crash caused when Strickland drove her car across the center line of a Geneva County highway and collided head-on with another vehicle.

Thirty-Third Judicial Circuit Judge Kimberly Clarke accepted Strickland’s plea to the charges.

Strickland was arrested approximately one mile from the crash scene after a two-vehicle traffic crash that occurred at approximately 4:35 p.m. June 5, 2021.

The accident involved a 2017 Nissan Maxima driven by Strickland and a 2019 Subaru Outback driven by Wendy M. Smith, 43, of Owensboro, Kentucky. The crash occurred approximately 12 miles south of the Enterprise city limits.

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Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Trooper Kendra McKinney said the Maxima driven by Strickland was traveling north on Alabama 87. “Strickland crossed the centerline into the southbound lane,” McKinney said. “The 2019 Subaru Outback swerved over into the northbound lane to avoid colliding with the Maxima.

“Strickland then swerved back into the northbound lane and struck the Subaru,” McKinney added. “Strickland fled the crash scene on foot and was later apprehend approximately one mile from the crash scene.”

The Subaru was occupied with three passengers and all three were transported to an area hospital for medical attention, McKinney said.

Clarke dismissed the charge of leaving the scene as part of Strickland’s plea agreement with prosecutors.



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