Wrong-Way Driver Pleads Guilty To DUI, Manslaughter, Gets 9 Years

A Wilmington woman who caused a head-on collision while driving in the wrong direction on Route 1 near the Roth Bridge has been sentenced to prison.

In May 2018, Melanie Heath, 25, was driving over 90 miles per hour southbound in the northbound lane when she collided with a car killing  41-year-old Christopher Sadler of Concord, North Carolina, who was a passenger in another car.

The incident occurred at approximately 12:09 a.m., Saturday, May 19, 2018, on State Route 1 in the area of Pole Bridge Road, Middletown. A 2006 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by Heath, was traveling SR 1 southbound in the northbound lanes of travel, north of the Roth Bridge. The Chevrolet continued southbound in the northbound lanes, crossing the bridge and proceeding through the Biddles Toll Plaza.

A 2016 Nissan Pathfinder, being driven by a 39-year-old Concord, North Carolina woman was traveling SR 1 northbound in the left lane, just north of the Pole Bridge Road interchange, following behind another vehicle. As the Chevrolet approached, the lead vehicle was able to swerve out of the way to avoid a collision, however, the Nissan was unable to do so and was struck head-on.

Heath who was properly restrained was transported to the Christiana Hospital with serious injuries.

The operator of the Nissan who was properly restrained was transported to the Christiana Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Christopher Sadler was also transported to the Christiana Hospital with serious injuries where he later succumbed to his injuries.

In June of 2019, Heath pleaded guilty to Manslaughter, Assault First Degree, Reckless Endangering First Degree, Driving Under the Influence, and Speeding. Last week prosecutors announced that a Superior Court judge sentenced Heath to 9 years in prison, followed by 6 months of either home confinement or work release, then 2 years of probation. She must also complete a DUI Course of Instruction.