Jamie Jo McBride was trying to overcome her problems when she moved to Saratoga Springs several years ago.
The 55-year-old mother of two had struggled with mental health issues for years, a worsening condition that followed her from her years living in Connecticut to her family’s new home in a suburban town on the outskirts of Seattle — issues that eventually led to divorce.
Estranged from her family, McBride returned to a place where she remembered being happy in life: Saratoga Springs.
“She remembered coming to Saratoga with her parents as a child and having fond memories,” Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III said of the former speech pathologist with a dual masters degree. “She came here thinking that she could recreate that happy time for herself.”
Instead, her time in the Spa City ended in tragedy. On a late afternoon in June 2013, McBride was struck down and killed by a drunk driver as she legally traversed a crosswalk on Ballston Avenue.
On Friday, the driver — Paul Nicholson II, 29, of Saratoga Springs — abruptly pleaded guilty to a pair of first-degree vehicular manslaughter charges just as a jury was about to be drawn for his trial. He is expected to receive a prison term of 3 to 9 years when sentenced Aug. 7.
“The defendant’s choice to spend the day bar-hopping and drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel of his truck is criminal,” Murphy said. “The loss of a human life because of his criminal choices is, unfortunately, the tragic consequence of drunk driving.”
Nicholson had worked through the pre-dawn hours on the day of the crash and spent the daylight hours drinking at several downtown bars. Around 3:30 p.m., he visited the drive-thru at McDonald’s for a bite to eat.
Nicholson then proceeded north on Hamilton Street and was attempting to turn his Ford F-250 truck right onto Ballston Avenue. Instead, he plowed into McBride as she walked toward the middle of the crosswalk.
The impact threw McBride to the road. Nicholson, who apparently didn’t see the woman or what he hit, continued through the turn, causing the passenger side wheels to run over McBride as she lay in the roadway.
At the time, McBride was wearing a red fleece jacket and carrying a large umbrella. She also had the ‘walk’ signal to cross. She was taken to the Albany Medical Center Hospital, where she died a short time later.
A number of pedestrians watched the ghastly crash unfold. Cameras on a school bus parked nearby at the Holiday Inn and facing toward the crosswalk also recorded the horror of Nicholson striking McBride.
“It was a horrendous scene,” Murphy said of the footage. “This was particularly horrific video because you know what’s going to happen.”
Tests showed Nicholson’s blood-alcohol content to be 0.18 percent — more than twice the legal limit. He also had a prior conviction for driving while ability impaired in 2010, which allowed prosecutors to lodge the first-degree vehicular manslaughter charges against him.
In addition to prison time, Nicholson will have to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle he operates or owns for three years after his release.
McBride was initially described by police as homeless, but Murphy said McBride had a trust fund and continued to keep in touch with her adult son and teenage daughter.
Her obituary last year listed her mother as a resident of the city, though she has no published phone listing. A call to the family in Washington state was not returned Friday.
McBride earned a dual masters degree from Bowling Green State University. Her obituary described her as an avid reader, a caring individual and a fierce advocate “for the disadvantaged, especially for the autistic, traumatically brain injured and the homeless.”