DA's office investigating where teen bought alcohol before fatal DWI crash

Chelesa Kuss cries as she listens to statements in court Monday morning / photo: Jessica Cain

The driver in last year TMs fatal crash on State Route 31 in Bridgeport may have been sentenced to prison on Monday, but the investigation into the case is not over yet.

The Onondaga County District Attorney TMs Office is still investigating who sold the 'Four Loko' brand caffeinated alcohol that 18-year-old Chelsea Lynn Kuss drank before she got behind the wheel. The crash killed Kuss TMs friend Victoria Deverso and severely injured Peggy Blume, a driver in an oncoming minivan.

Four Loko is a brand of caffeinated alcoholic beverage, which was pulled from store shelves in New York State last year under concern that its combination of stimulants and depressants are dangerous to consumers' health. Four Loko was widely available in May 2010 when the fatal crash took place.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio says he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, but Madison County District Attorney Bill Gabor says investigators know where the alcohol was bought. Now they TMre looking into who sold it.

Gabor says in Madison County, this case is now closed, and it will be up to Onondaga County to make a decision about any additional charges.

CNY Central was the first to report the investigation into where Kuss bought the alcohol. You can read more on that story by clicking here.

Original Story from Monday, February 7:

A teenager will spend at least the next three years in prison after admitting guilt in a DWI crash last year that killed her friend.

18-year-old Chelsea Kuss of Syracuse was in Madison County Court Monday morning and entered a guilty plea to aggravated vehicular homicide in connection with a crash last May that killed a passenger in the car she was driving and critically injured a woman in another vehicle. She also pleaded guilty to charges of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. She was sentenced to 3.5 to 10 years in prison as part of the plea agreement. The judge decided not to offer her youthful offender status, and she will have to have an ignition interlock device installed in her car, as part of Leandra's law.Kuss was originally accused of aggravated vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated - among other charges - for the May 24, 2010 crash that killed her friend Victoria Deverso. The crash also severely injured the driver of an oncoming minivan, Peggy Blume, after Kuss was speeding down State Route 31 and swerving in and out of traffic. Police say Kuss' blood alcohol content was .13%.

During Monday's court session, statements from Deverso's parents and Blume were read aloud by the Madison County District Attorney's Office.

Elizabeth Deverso's statement said Kuss' behavior was "careless and reckless." She said several of Victoria's friends told her Kuss thought of herself as a "good drunk driver," but Deverso said Kuss "used no self control to do the right thing." She asked the court to give Kuss the maximum penalty.

Chris Deverso spoke of his close relationship with his daughter, and he said the things he used to look forward to, like Victoria's high school graduation and wedding, are now just painful thoughts of things that will not happen. During Chris Deverso's statement, Kuss began to cry.

After the sentencing, Chris Deverso said the day was about Kuss taking responsibility for her actions.

Unfortunately, I get to go visit my daughter at the cemetery, he says. There TMs six feet of dirt, unlike her and her family. She gets two inches of plexiglass. I TMd take the plexiglass over the dirt any day, but I don TMt have that choice. She made that choice for me.

Blume declined to speak to CNY Central after the court proceedings. Her attorney, Paul Mullin, issued this statement on her behalf:

"Today's court appearance was about the most she could handle for today. It was quite a emotional proceeding and I know the family hopes that young kids and the people in the schools can learn something about the seriousness of the behavior that was exhibited on that May day. Also, to learn there are serious ramifications for one's poor decisions. The Blumes are grateful for the work of the District Attorney and the State Police and all those who have worked on this matter."

When Judge Biagio DiStefano asked Kuss if she had anything to say, she said, "I'm so sorry for what I did. Not a day goes by that I don't think about Victoria." Kuss also apologized to the Blume family for the pain she has caused them.

During sentencing, Judge DiStefano told Kuss no matter how difficult her life will be after this, death is permanent.

"No parent should outlive their child," he said.