Michigan birthday party crash: Police release mugshot of suspected drunken driver accused of killing 2 kids

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Michigan authorities have released the name and mugshot of the suspect who police say crashed a car into a boat club, killing two children and injuring nearly a dozen others.

Newport resident Marshella Marie Chidester, 66, was charged with two counts of second-degree homicide on Tuesday, according to a press release from the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. She was also charged with two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.

On the afternoon, authorities received reports of a driver plowing into the Swan Boat Club in Berlin Township. A birthday party was happening in the building at the time of the crash.

The car plunged 25 feet into the boat club, killing Alanah Phillips, 8, and Zayn Phillips, 5. The two were siblings.

Nine people were seriously injured and transported to local hospitals for treatment. Authorities announced yesterday that a 31-year-old woman and 11-year-old boy are both being treated for critical injuries — two victims that have been identified as the Phillips’ mother and brother, according to the children’s aunt.

Authorities also said that a 16-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, and an 18-year-old woman are all in “serious” condition and are currently receiving treatment.

Four women between the ages of 57 and 70 were taken to hospitals for minor injuries, and a tenth injured person found treatment on his own.

At a press conference hours after the tragedy occurred, Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough teared up as he described the horrific scene.

“The scene was just described by the first responders as extremely chaotic, with a high level of emotions of those directly involved and those who witnessed this horrific incident,” he said.

“The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate this incident to ensure we have identified all of those who were injured or witnessed this incident,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release on Monday. “We will update the public as more information is developed.”

According to officials, Chidester’s murder charges carry a maximum punishment of life in prison. She could face a maximum of 15 years in prison for each driving while intoxicated and causing death charge, and a maximum of five years for the other charges. If convicted, Chidester’s fines could be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

After the incident, Chidester was transported to Monroe County Jail. She is being held on a bond of $1,500,000. Her next court appearances are booked for Apr. 30 and May 6.

Anyone with information that may help investigators is urged to call the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 734-240-7530.


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