Luann Simon loved to bake carrot cakes and monster cookies for family, friends and co-workers at Arcola Elementary School. She had the heart of a servant — a light to those around her — that is, until Sept. 16, when she was killed by Stacey R. Motz-Altman in a traffic accident on U.S. 30 near Goshen Road.
Motz-Altman appeared Monday morning for sentencing before Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck, who accepted a June 14 plea agreement requiring Motz-Altman to serve 8 1/2 years on probation with the first year on electronic monitoring.
The 39-year-old Winona Lake woman had pleaded guilty but mentally ill to reckless homicide and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon charges when she slammed her black 2015 Infiniti Q50 sedan into the back of 54-year-old Simon's 2012 Chevrolet Impala at 142 mph before 11 p.m. Sept. 16 on U.S. 30.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, Motz-Altman struck Simon's Impala, shoving it into the rear of a semi tractor-trailer and dragging it underneath the semi's trailer for several hundred feet before coming to a stop. Simon was extricated and taken in critical condition to the hospital, where she later died. The semi driver was apparently uninjured.
A seat belt control module indicated Motz-Altman was driving 142 mph at the time of the accident. Motz-Altman said she was driving to Fort Wayne to get something to eat. She had no drugs or alcohol in her system, the affidavit said.
It wasn't until after the accident that Motz-Altman was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Motz-Altman told Simon's family members she was very sorry and the accident shouldn't have happened.
The courtroom was full of Simon's family, friends and co-workers as Motz-Altman looked downward as they spoke of Simon's inquisitive nature and her love of baking. Simon's sister, Mareta Christman, said the last cake Simon baked was for her twins' birthday. She also said Simon loved to pull kids on sleds at the family's 80-acre farm that everyone called the compound. Simon was the 13th of 16 children and had worked at Perry Hill and Arcola elementary schools.
Kathleen Perfect, principal at Arcola Elementary School, said whenever an employee had a bad day, that person would receive a treat from Simon. "Our loss is forever," she said.
Her brother, Paul "Rick" Meyers, told Motz-Altman the family forgave her. He asked for the presence of God, the Father and Holy Spirit to guide and love her and for God to bless her.
Deputy prosecutor Adam Mildred said he had never had a case of this nature. Simon's family supported sentencing guidelines, which include restitution in the amount of 29,187.39 and an 8 1/2-year driver's license suspension.
Surbeck also ordered Motz-Altman to undergo an updated assessment by her care-takers in Kosciusko County, where her probation eventually will transfer.