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Woman Faces Murder, DUI Charges After Crashing into Children's Birthday Party, Killing Two Siblings: Officials

Michigan Woman Arrested After Fatal Crash at Children's Birthday Party
Source: Monroe County Sheriff’s Office; MEGA

Marshella Chidester accused of driving drunk and crashing into a kid's birthday party, killing 2.

Apr. 24 2024, Published 12:03 p.m. ET

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An elderly Michigan woman has been arrested after police say she crashed into a children’s birthday party while intoxicated, killing two young siblings and severely injuring several others.

Around 3 p.m. on April 20, emergency personnel responded to an “extremely chaotic” scene at the Swan Boat Club in Newport, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

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A woman, later identified as 66-year-old Marshella Chidester, drove into the club, and police said her vehicle “came to rest approximately 25 feet inside the building.”

Authorities rendered aid to approximately 15 injured victims, including both adults and young kids.

The sheriff’s office said nine people were transported to hospitals via ambulance or air ambulance, including a 31-year-old woman and an 11-year-old boy, who both remain in critical condition.

Three teens were transported via ambulance — ages 18, 16, and 14 years old — and they are reportedly in serious condition. Four older adults — ages 70, 66, 62, and 57 years old — sustained minor injuries.

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Officials said individuals transported several other victims to hospitals, and a 42-year-old man sought treatment on his own for non-life-threatening injuries.

Two siblings, 8-year-old Alanah Phillips and 4-year-old Zayn Phillips, were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

child killed

Chidester was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, officials said.

On April 23, she appeared in court for her arraignment and a judge set her bond at $1.5 million. If she posts a bond, she will have to wear a GPS and alcohol tether.

If convicted of the second-degree murder charges, Chidester faces a maximum of life in prison.

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During her arraignment, Chidester’s attorney argued that she suffered leg seizures, went into paralysis and then crashed into the boat club, the Detroit News reported.

However, Monroe County Prosecutor Jeffrey Yorkey reportedly claimed there was no evidence Chidester had a seizure that day, and a breath test allegedly revealed her blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.

In a statement from the Swan Boat Club, they said, "We have no profound words that can heal us after the unimaginable tragedy that occurred yesterday, April 20, 2024, at Swan Boat Club, only feelings."


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