Bret Harte administrator in fair condition after collision

Woman arrested at the scene for felony DUI

By Jason Cowan, The Union Democrat

A Bret Harte High School administrator sustained major injuries after a head-on collision Wednesday.

Heath Lane, 50, an assistant principal and former athletic director, was in fair condition at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto Thursday afternoon.

The California Highway Patrol identified the driver of the car that hit him as Beth De Lima, 57, who owns a human resources firm in Murphys. She sustained minor injuries and was arrested at the scene on suspicion of felony driving under the influence.

De Lima is a nationally known human resources expert who has testified in courts and conducted workshops for businesses.

The CHP said Lane was traveling about 30 mph east on Murphys Grade Road at 6:20 p.m. As he approached a curved section of the road the other driver, traveling at an unknown speed in the opposite direction, failed to follow the bend in the curve and entered the opposing lane. The crash occurred east of Fairview Park Court in Murphys.

Lane, driving a 2015 Dodge, and De Lima, in a 2012 Audi, were transported by air ambulance to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

De Lima was no longer listed as a patient Thursday afternoon, said Tiffani Burns, the medical center’s marketing manager.

Bret Harte Union High School District Superintendent Michael Chimente, who called Lane a good friend of over 20 years, said Lane was in good spirits when he sent a text and received a response from Lane’s wife in the hospital earlier in the day.

“I joked with him via text,” he said.

Lane became assistant principal last August after a lengthy career as baseball coach and athletic director at the high school.

Bret Harte Principal Kylee Luchetti said Lane is responsible for academic counseling for juniors and seniors, college and career advising, and discipline.

Chimente said Lane is well-liked among the students at Bret Harte. He said they made a video to send him to wish him well and hope he’ll come back soon. Chimente added they’re going to give Lane as much time as he needs to recover.

“When he returns, he’ll be welcomed back,” Chimente said. “He needs to recover first.”

Personally, Chimente said his friend is an excellent educator who is passionate about what he does. He said Lane, who he lived next to for more than 20 years, has a strong future ahead in administration.

Lane has roots in teaching, Chimente said. He spent some time at Ripon High School and Sonora before finding a home at Bret Harte more than a decade ago.

CHP Officer Toby Butzler said De Lima was released to receive medical treatments and will likely face charges.

“If we are able to easily identify the person, we know where they live, who they have, have a good identification, of course they’ve been taken for treatment and they don’t have a long criminal history of warrants and stuff like that, we can make the determination to release them and bring them back or do it with complaint to be filed charges,” Butzler said.

Butzler said a felony charge is brought if someone else is injured. It doesn’t need to cause a major injury, he said.

“Even if the victim complains of pain, we’ll charge it,” he said. “Obviously, it’ll be up to the district attorney for final recommendations. Anything from complaint of pain and above, we’ll recommend felony DUI charges.”

De Lima is the principal and founder of HRM Consulting Inc., a Murphys-based company that assists others with the complexities of human resources management, according to company website.

The agency specializes in requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Employment Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, California Family Rights Act and sexual harassment and other personnel concerns.

De Lima is a certified mediator who has been appointed to the Amador County Superior Court Mediation Panel since 2008, her curriculum vitae said. She’s also certified nationwide as a senior professional in HR, a title given to those who master the various aspects within the field.

She received a Master of Business Administration degree in 1992 from California State University, Sacramento, and a Bachelor of Science degree in family and consumer resources in 1988 from the University of Arizona.

Contact Calaveras County reporter Jason Cowan at jcowan@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 770-7197. Follow him on Twitter at @jcowan1031 .

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The Union Democrat
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