Suspect in fatal crash denied fault
Accused of driving drunk and causing a four-vehicle crash that left two dead, a Nevada City woman reportedly blamed one of the victims for causing the collision on Highway 49.
According to a California Highway Patrol report, Kelli Lynette Townsend, 36, had a blood-alcohol level of .20 – more than twice the legal limit – when her Jeep Cherokee struck a Ford compact head-on June 11.
The Ford Festiva was being driven by Cassandra Elizabeth Schley-May, 22, of Nevada City. Schley-May was thrown from her car and died at the scene. Glen Edmiston, 76, of Camptonville, was trailing Schley-May in a Chevrolet Malibu and died 10 days later from injuries he sustained in the resulting collision.
The day of the crash, Townsend reportedly told highway patrol officers that it was Schley-May who was responsible for the collision.
“(Townsend) related she was going home when another car traveling in the other direction came into her lane and hit her,” the highway report stated.
“Townsend continually blamed Cassandra Schley-May for colliding with her.”
However, Townsend failed several field sobriety tests that day and refused to give a blood sample, the report stated. Officers had to hold her down while a nurse administered the test at a hospital.
According to the CHP, witnesses and investigators said it was Townsend who crossed the double-yellow line near Old Downieville Highway.
She now faces multiple charges of vehicular manslaughter, one count of child endangerment and several counts of driving under the influence of alcohol.The child-endangerment charge stems from Townsend’s 5-year-old daughter being in the Jeep at the time of the crash. Authorities said the child complained of head and shoulder pain afterward.
No one was injured in the fourth car involved in the collision.When a highway patrol officer first interviewed Townsend at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, he smelled alcohol on her breath, according to the report. He noted in the document that she was belligerent while he asked her questions about her involvement in the crash, and that her speech was slurred.
When he asked her if she had any alcohol prior to the crash, she at first said she did not but later said she had three glasses of wine the previous night, the report stated.At an arraignment hearing in Nevada County Superior Court on Monday, Townsend did not enter a plea to her charges because the prosecutor’s office had filed a motion to raise her bail.
Townsend bailed out of jail on a $35,000 bond the day after the crash, but Deputy District Attorney David Walters is trying to have her bail increased “to ensure public safety,” he said.
If the bail is increased and she again bails out, Walters said, he is asking for a provision barring her from driving a vehicle.
Townsend’s attorney could not be reached for comment Monday.
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