Last week, Lauren Michelle Dangerfield, 33 from Lexington, was sentenced to 12 years in the South Carolina Department of Corrections following a guilty plea to Felony DUI, Involving Death.
Dangerfield entered her guilty plea by videoconference using the Court’s Virtual Courtroom platform on Dec. 7. The sentencing hearing was delayed because of the court closures. Circuit Court Judge Debra R. McCaslin presided over this case and sentenced Dangerfield last week Thursday.
Under South Carolina law, this charge is classified as serious, “no parole,” and carries a maximum penalty of 25 years. Dangerfield pled guilty to this charge without any plea negotiations.
On July 13, 2018, as Brian Orazen, age 45, was driving to work when Dangerfield travelled left of center on Nazareth Road in the Red Bank area of Lexington County. Dangerfield collided with Orazen’s vehicle head on resulting in Orazen’s death. Orazen sustained fatal injuries directly as a result of the collision. South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers responded to the scene and conducted the investigation. Witnesses reported to law enforcement that Dangerfield’s vehicle crossed the centerline several times prior to the fatal incident. Witnesses also reported that Dangerfield appeared “out of it.” The investigating trooper observed that Dangerfield’s speech was slurred and that she had difficulties keeping her eyes open.
Dangerfield admitted to the trooper that she consumed drugs the night before. She agreed to a blood draw under South Carolina’s Implied Consent Law. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) conducted the analysis in this case and determined that Dangerfield’s blood sample had the presence of methamphetamine, cocaine, and three benzodiazepines.
During sentencing, Orazen’s widow, Stacy Orazen, addressed the Court. She expressed that she has not had a “moment of peace” since Dangerfield’s reckless and selfish decision to get behind the wheel that morning.
Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solicitor Todd Wagoner handled the prosecution of this case. Assistant Solicitor Wagoner remarked that “these terrible situations are made even more tragic when you consider how preventable they are.” He further commented that “Dangerfield made a decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs, which ultimately robbed Stacy Orazen of her husband, her best friend, and of her opportunity to begin a family here in Lexington.”
Dangerfield has prior convictions for possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and several speeding offenses. Dangerfield will be transported to the South Carolina Department of Corrections for the immediate service of her sentence.