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Texas Authorities Sought Felony for Senator Williams

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AmbulanceColorado state Senator Suzanne Williams should have been charged with criminally negligent homicide, a felony, in a head-on car crash last December that killed a pregnant woman, according to a Department of Safety report on the accident that was obtained by the Amarillo Globe-News. The report, which the Globe-News obtained via the Texas Open Records law, also recommended that Williams be charged with tampering with physical evidence and injury to a child in the accident, which happened in Texas on December 26, 2010.

Williams, 66, received three misdemeanor citations after a grand jury decided in May not to indict her on criminal charges, and her lawyer, David Lane, said recently that the Department of Safety report shows “some disappointed cops who had no case, as evidenced by the grand jury report.” Williams has pleaded not guilty to each of the three citations, which include one for driving on the wrong side of the road and two for failing to have children properly secured in her car.

According to investigators, Williams’ car drifted over the center line into oncoming traffic on on U.S. 385 near Channing, Texas (about 375 miles southeast of the Denver area), and crashed into an oncoming car, killing Brianna Gomez, 30, of Amarillo, Texas. Gomez’s unborn child, Curran, was delivered in emergency surgery by cesarean section before his mother died. Gomez’s husband, Eric, and their children, Mali, then 6, and Eleri, then 22 months, were injured. Also injured were Williams’ son Todd and two grandsons.

According to the Associated Press, via Statesman.com:

Investigators said Williams initially told paramedics that no one had been ejected from her vehicle. Their report said they later determined she moved her grandchildren back into her vehicle, putting one in a child safety seat before responders arrived.

‘We concluded that Mrs. Williams tampered with evidence when she moved Tristan from the roadway and Tyler from the dash by returning them to their locations prior to the crash, then not being forthcoming when the investigating officer first questioned her regarding if anyone had been ejected from her vehicle,’ the accident reconstruction report said. ‘She only later admitted to moving the children at the hospital when questioned further after inconsistent injuries were revealed on both children.’

The accident reconstruction team said Williams should have known that not having passengers in child safety seats or wearing seat belts created a high risk of injury. Williams, a staunch seat belt advocate, was wearing her belt. Investigators said that alcohol and drugs were not factors, and that Williams was not using her cellphone at the time, but Williams might have been fatigued or distracted.

According to DPS records, as reporter Joe Gamm writes in the Amarillo Globe-News:

• Williams ‘reportedly had only four to six hours of sleep before making the return trip’ to Aurora, Colo., from a family visit in McKinney, a Dallas suburb.

• She said she ‘only napped’ while watching movies with her grandchildren in the back seat en route to Amarillo before she took over the wheel from her son.

• Williams listened to her son read a book to her grandchildren and ‘may have been distracted and not paying attention to her driving,’ investigators said.

Image by Rolf Larsen, used under its Creative Commons license.

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