Commonwealth v. Neil William Lyness; Mother and Daughter Killed by Impaired Driver; Judge Imposes 20 Years, 6 Months

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Neil William Lyness, 31 years old, who previously resided in the 2300 block of Benefit Road in Chesapeake, Virginia, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge William R. O’Brien for charges of Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter (2 counts) and Driving While License Revoked – 3rd or Subsequent Offense. Judge O’Brien sentenced Lyness to 40 years and 12 months in prison, with 20 years and 6 months suspended, leaving 20 years and 6 months to serve.  Judge O’Brien further ordered that upon his release, Lyness may not drive any vehicle, may not use illegal drugs, may not take more than the prescribed dosage of prescription drugs, and must remain on good behavior for 20 years.  

Lyness pled guilty on December 10, 2014.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proven that on September 25, 2013, the defendant caused an accident on Interstate 64 in Virginia Beach, killing Sandra Amaya and her 12-year-old daughter.  Lyness is a double amputee and had only the use of his right arm and leg.  He was not wearing his prosthetic left arm.  A witness observed Lyness driving at a high rate of speed in the left hand lane heading from Chesapeake to Virginia Beach.  This witness watched Lyness’ truck veer off the road to the left and into the grassy median.  Lyness did not apply his brakes or try to get back on the road.  Lyness continued across the median, crossing over into oncoming traffic, and striking Amaya’s vehicle head-on.  Amaya and her daughter were killed instantly.


Responding paramedics smelled alcohol on Lyness’ breath.  He was transported to the hospital, where his blood was drawn.  The blood was sent to the Department of Forensic Science for testing.  DFS analysis showed that Lyness had a minimal amount of alcohol in his system, as well as four medications: Tramadol, Cyclobenzaprine, Olanzapine and Trazodone.  Each of these drugs has several side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, the possibility of a seizure, blurred vision, decreased concentration, decreased muscle control, and decreased reaction time.  In a recorded jail call when asked about the amount of Tramadol he took, Lyness stated, “Who knows. I probably did like I did before and ate 50…”


Phone records showed that Lyness was sending and receiving text messages just prior to the accident.  Further, he answered a phone call about one minute before the accident. 


Lyness’ license was revoked at the time of the crash and had been since April 1, 2013. Lyness was notified, on two prior occasions, in Chesapeake Circuit Court and Williamsburg City General District Court, that his license was suspended. He has convictions for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License on June 14, 2004 and January 7, 2008.


The case was prosecuted by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick J. Connolly and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristin L. Paulding. Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.