Mother charged in fatal crash

FAIRMONT – A 26-year-old Fairmont woman whose 6-year-old son was killed in a car crash last month faces several counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

Alicia Marie Tapia reportedly had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit on the morning of March 3 when she rolled her vehicle on Highway 4. One of her three children involved in the crash, Amonte King, was killed.

According to information from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office:

Emergency officials were dispatched to the scene of a car crash on Highway 4 shortly after 8 a.m. March 3. When police arrived, there was a vehicle in the east ditch with severe damage.

The driver was identified as Tapia. She was outside the vehicle receiving medical treatment. It was determined that two of the three children in the vehicle, including King, were ejected when the vehicle crashed. King was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was learned that Tapia was traveling from Dunnell, and a residence where she had been was contacted. A woman there said Tapia spent the night after a party, but had left a short time prior.

Tapia was interviewed at the emergency room. She told investigators she had been going the speed limit and was not sure what caused the crash. She also said her younger children had not put on their seat belts shortly before the crash, despite her ordering them to do so. Tapia said she was belted at the time of the crash.

A reconstruction of the crash scene indicated speed was a factor, and it was estimated that Tapia’s vehicle was going about 81 mph when the crash occurred.

Tapia was interviewed again at the hospital in Rochester on March 4. She told investigators she had been babysitting while the people she was staying with went out on a date. Tapia admitted to drinking, but didn’t remember how much she had. She said the people she was staying with came home around 1 a.m., and she decided to stay the night.

When she woke up the next morning, she gathered her children and left. Tapia again stated she was traveling the speed limit when the crash occurred, despite evidence gathered in the crash scene reconstruction.

The people Tapia stayed with in Dunnell also were interviewed. The duo said they had gone out on a date while Tapia watched their children. They returned home around 1 a.m. They said Tapia stayed up with them for a while, then slept over. Both believed driving while intoxicated could have contributed to the crash.

Autopsy reports show King died of a skull fracture that occurred during the crash and being ejected.

A 4-year-old child in the crash received a concussion and skull fracture from being ejected from the vehicle.

A 9-year-old girl in the crash suffered minor injuries. She told Human Services investigators she had been wearing her seat belt when the crash occurred.

Blood samples from Tapia sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension showed Tapia had a blood-alcohol level of .22 after the crash, well above the .08 legal limit.

Tapia faces eight charges of criminal vehicular homicide; six stem from alcohol being a factor in the crash. Four of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, while the remaining four charges of driving in a grossly negligent manner each carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Tapia also faces two counts of gross misdemeanor second-degree driving while impaired.