Okla. crash suspect held on 2nd-degree murder charges
Witnesses say the car was traveling at full speed when it slammed into the crowd at Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
STILLWATER, Okla. — The suspect in a car crash that killed four people and wounded nearly 50 at Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade on Saturday faces four charges of second-degree murder, police said.
The driver, Adacia Chambers, 25, was initially arrested and detained on suspicion of driving under the influence Saturday. Authorities on Sunday said they added four charges of second-degree murder.
The attorney representing Chambers said Sunday he believed mental illness, not intoxication, caused the crash.
“She doesn’t remember a whole lot about what happened,” attorney Tony Coleman told reporters. “There was a period where I think … she could have even blacked out,” he said.
“I don’t believe right now that she was intoxicated,” Coleman told The Oklahoman. “I have deep concerns about her competency at this point. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I can tell you she’s suffering from mental illness.”
A woman faces second-degree murder charges after authorities said she plowed a car into the crowd at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade, killing four people, including a toddler. (Oct. 25) AP
Police Capt. Kyle Gibbs declined to discuss the evidence against Chambers and asked any witnesses with photos and videos to contact investigators. Payne County District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas earlier on Sunday told The Oklahoman that Chambers would likely be charged with driving under the influence of drugs. Alcohol was not thought to have been involved.
Thomas said Chambers would likely address bond conditions before a judge Monday afternoon.
Coleman, the attorney representing Chambers, told reporters on Sunday, “I absolutely can rule out alcohol as an intoxicant. He said Chambers’ behavior when he spoke to her “was not consistent with someone coming out of an alcoholic stupor.” He said family members who were with her late Friday did not see her consume any alcohol. Her boyfriend said she was sober when she left for work at a restaurant about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, he said.
The car was not part of the homecoming parade, according to police. Gibbs said Chambers drove her Elantra through several barriers and hit a parked police motorcycle before careening into the crowd.
Witnesses described a scene of chaos as bodies flew into the air from the impact and landed on the road. Three adults and a 2-year-old boy were killed and at least 46 others were hurt, including at least four critically injured. Hospitals initially said five were critically injured, but one of those was upgraded to fair condition on Sunday.
Coleman said he views the crash as a result of untreated physical or mental illness, saying that during a post-accident meeting at the jail, “I was not satisfied at all that I was communicating with a competent individual.”
Chambers’ father, Floyd Chambers of Oologah, told The Oklahoman he couldn’t believe his daughter was involved and said she was not an alcoholic. He described her as “timid” and said she had attended homecoming festivities Friday night with family, but her boyfriend told him she was home by 10 p.m.
“This is just not who she is. They’re going to paint her into a horrible person but this is not (her),” Floyd Chambers told the paper.
Two of the deceased were identified as local residents Bonnie Jean Stone and Marvin Lyle Stone, both 65. A third adult killed was Nikita Prabhakar Nakal, of Mumbai, India. She was a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, according to that school’s president, Don Betz.
Oklahoma State identified the 2-year-old boy as Nash Lucas of Stillwater. His mother is a student at the university, a spokesman said.
Marvin Stone was a retired professor of agricultural engineering, who had been popular with students, a colleague said.
“He was loved by students and one of the best teachers we had,” said Ron Elliott, the former head of the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department at OSU. “He just really had a gift for connecting with students and helping them learn,” Elliott said in a telephone interview.
The homecoming game against Kansas was played as scheduled, players bowing their heads in prayer as the American flag fluttered at half-staff in Boone Pickens Stadium under orders from Gov. Mary Fallin, an Oklahoma State alumnus who attended the homecoming game. The university’s homecoming is a major celebration, drawing more than 80,000 alumni, fans and area residents downtown. A pep rally before the game was canceled, said Stillwater Mayor Gina Noble, who was the parade’s grand marshal.
Noble said the town’s 50,000 residents are still in shock.
“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re taking our time to make sure we get everything right,” she said. “We’re shocked. We are definitely subdued in mood and we’re still trying to understand.”
Oklahoma State’s homecoming famously attracts huge crowds to Stillwater each year. Before thousands of cheering orange-clad fans, the undefeated Cowboys beat winless Kansas 58-10.