Woman Charged With Murder After Driving Into a Party, Killing 2 Children

Woman Charged With Murder After Driving Into a Party, Killing 2 Children

A woman in Michigan was charged with second-degree murder after driving her vehicle into a building where a birthday party was taking place on Saturday, killing two children and injuring 15 other people, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

The woman, Marshella Marie Chidester, 66, was also charged with two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing death, and four counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing serious injury, Jeffery A. Yorkey, the Monroe County prosecuting attorney, said. She was given a $1.5 million bond.

Bill Colovos, an attorney for Ms. Chidester, who appeared before District Court Judge Christian J. Horkey, said in court that Ms. Chidester did not have any previous traffic citations and that she had a history of seizures since November, saying that she experienced an “epileptic-type seizure in her legs.” The court entered a plea of not guilty for Ms. Chidester.

Prosecutors said Ms. Chidester was intoxicated on Saturday when she drove her vehicle into a wall of the Swan Boat Club in Berlin Township, Mich., where the birthday party was taking place, killing the children and injuring 15 other people.

Ms. Chidester was taken into custody on Saturday afternoon and was held at the Monroe County jail for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, causing death, which carries a penalty of as much as $10,000 in fines and 15 years in prison. The additional charges of second-degree murder carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

An 8-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother were killed when Ms. Chidester drove through the building, Sheriff Troy Goodnough of Monroe County, Mich., said at a news conference on Saturday. The vehicle stopped 25 feet inside the building, he said.

A probable cause hearing was set for April 30.

Fifteen people were injured, including three children and six adults with life-threatening injuries. Among the people injured were the mother of the children and their older brother, according to a GoFundMe page started by the mother’s sister.

The police also executed a search warrant at a nearby tavern where the woman may have been before the crash.

The boat club in Berlin Township, which is southwest of Detroit and near the town of Newport, posted condolence messages for several days after the crash, along with the photographs of some of the victims and links to fund-raisers for funerals and medical expenses.

A local school district, Flat Rock Community Schools, said its community was “reeling from this devastating news, and our hearts ache for the families and loved ones of those affected by this unimaginable tragedy.”

The two children who were killed attended the Early Childhood Center and Bobcean Elementary School, while their 11-year-old brother, who was injured, is a student at Simpson Middle School. Counselors and social workers were available for students this week, the district said.

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