On May 30, 2019, Vanessa Marie Vanatten, pled guilty to Intoxication Manslaughter for causing the death of Diana Chain on October 25, 2018. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Vanatten was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The range of punishment for Intoxication Manslaughter is 2 to 20 years in prison. Due to the affirmative finding of a deadly weapon, she will have to serve at least half of her sentence before she is eligible for parole.
On Thursday, October 25, 2018, at approximately 9:45 pm, Diana Chain was walking on the shoulder of South Frazier Street, between Rhodes Street and the South Loop 336, in Conroe when she was struck and killed by Vanatten’s vehicle. Ms. Chain’s adult nephew was walking ahead of her and was nearly hit by Vanatten’s vehicle as well. Vanatten was on her way home and had recently left a local bar where she had been drinking. Vanatten pulled over after she realized she had hit someone and attempted to find someone to call 911. Chain’s nephew went to a nearby motel and got staff to call 911. When Conroe Police Department Officers arrived, Vanatten approached them and admitted that she had hit someone.
Conroe Police Department and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Call-Out Team responded to the scene. Vanatten’s blood was obtained and testing showed that her blood alcohol concentration was nearly double the legal limit. The investigation also determined that Vanatten was traveling at a very high speed and driving recklessly when she struck Chain.
Vehicular Crimes Chief Andrew James prosecuted the case.
After the court accepted the plea agreement and pronounced sentence, Vanatten heard victim impact statements from Chain’s sister and cousin. Vanatten cried and apologized as they told her about the lasting damage her actions have caused their family; that Chain’s adult special needs son no longer has the person who has taken care of him for his entire life.
“This plea is a direct result of the great work done by the Crash Investigators, Patrol Officers, and Crime Scene Investigators of the Conroe Police Department. They did a detailed and thorough investigation and because of that, we were able to hold Ms. Vanatten accountable for her actions. Sadly, this case is another example that those killed are not the only victims of impaired drivers. The life that Ms. Vanatten took and the damage that she has caused to Diana Chain’s family cannot be undone,” said Vehicular Crimes Chief Andrew James.