Wrong way drunk driver causes multi-vehicle crash, killing Kansas City woman
An Ohio teen is facing criminal charges for causing a wrong way, multi-vehicle crash that forced another car into the path of a semi-truck, killing a Kansas City woman. According to the Dayton Daily News, 18 year-old Rachel Schidecker was traveling north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 when the accident occurred. It is not known where or how Schidecker entered the highway, but she told authorities she had just left an establishment in downtown Dayton.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that multiple vehicles were forced to swerve between lanes to avoid Schidecker's vehicle. When a southbound Chevrolet Blazer swerved to avoid a head-on collision, the Blazer drove into the path of a semi-truck, became pinned underneath the larger vehicle, and burst into flames. The driver of the semi-truck and a passenger were able to escape, and a Good Samaritan pulled the driver of the Blazer to safety. However, a passenger in the Blazer, 39 year-old Chereece Rule, was trapped in the wreckage, and bystanders were unable to free her before the vehicles caught fire. Rule was pronounced dead at the scene. She was reportedly returning home to Kansas City after dropping off her son at Central State University.
Following the initial collision, Schidecker's vehicle continued on to strike a van, forcing it into another car. In all, authorities say five vehicles were involved in the incident, and five people suffered injuries and were taken to local hospitals by ambulance. Two victims have since been treated and released, and the other three are expected to recover. The accident necessitated the closure of both northbound and southbound I-35 for several hours.
The Dayton Daily News reports that Schidecker admitted she was drunk at the scene of the crash. The responding officers did not conduct a field sobriety test, but they reported that Schidecker was "visibly intoxicated." A blood sample was taken at Miami Valley Hospital and sent to the Patrol's laboratory in Columbus. Medical professionals also conducted a toxicology report, but their findings have not yet been released.
Investigation into the accident continues. Authorities plan to meet with prosecutors in the near future, and it's likely that Schidecker's case will be presented to a grand jury in the weeks ahead. She could be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide or involuntary manslaughter, depending on the findings of the investigation. In Ohio, an involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a mandatory minimum prison term of nine months.
In addition, authorities are attempting to learn more about Schidecker's activities prior to the crash. If she was served alcohol by a person or business, that individual or establishment could also face criminal consequences for serving a minor, and could also be sued in civil court.