Marshella Chidester: Michigan drunk driver, 66, charged with murder after SUV crash at child's birthday party kills 2 children

Marshella Chidester: Michigan drunk driver, 66, charged with murder after SUV crash at child's birthday party kills 2 children
Lana, aged 8, and Zayn, aged 5, both perished in the collision, while their mother, Mariah (on the right), and older brother, Jayden (on the left), are battling for survival (GoFundMe/FB)

Warning: This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers’ discretion advised.

NEWPORT. MICHIGAN: Marshella Chidester, aged 66, finds herself at the center of a harrowing legal battle after being charged with second-degree murder following a devastating SUV crash at a child's birthday party.

The incident, which occurred at the Swan Creek Boat Club in Berlin Township, Michigan, claimed the lives of two innocent children, Lana, aged 8, and Zayn, aged 5, while leaving their mother, Mariah Dodds, and elder brother, Jayden, fighting for survival.

Insights into the circumstances of the tragic crash

Chidester, with a cast on her right arm, stood before a judge on Tuesday, April 23, as details of the horrific crash emerged.

The prosecution requested a bond of $1.5 million, citing the suspect's history of substance misuse, a claim supported by testimony from friends and family.

Prosecutor Jeff Yorkey emphasized that Chidester's blood alcohol level was "significantly over the legal limit" at the time of the crash.

Harrowing images captured the aftermath of the tragedy, showing scattered balloons and party cups amidst the rubble. The woman's vehicle collided with the building, causing it to travel an additional 25 feet inward due to its velocity, reported Daily Mail.

The two young victims were pronounced dead at the scene

Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough depicted the scene as "extremely chaotic," marked by a "heightened level of emotions," as first responders hurried to assist victims, including one child reportedly trapped under the vehicle.

The siblings who tragically lost their lives were pronounced dead at the scene. Nine victims were transported to nearby hospitals via helicopters and ambulances, with several listed in critical condition.

However, defense lawyer Bill Colovos argued that the judge set the bond at $100,000, claiming Chidester had experienced "epileptic-type seizures" in her legs since November and had only consumed a small amount of alcohol hours before the collision.

Colovos appealed to the court, stating, "This is not a monster. It's horrible what happened, but there are some things we don't have control over."

Grieving aunt recalls the devastating moment of the crash

The courtroom witnessed emotional testimony from Raquel Smouthers, the children's aunt, who recounted the horror of witnessing the crash that claimed the lives of her niece and nephew.

"They were sitting at that table eating, and this woman crashed her car through this building destroying all of our lives," Smouthers expressed stating, "Nobody should ever have to go to a birthday party thinking that they're gonna die."

Chidester, identified as the former commodore of the boat club by The Detroit News, is scheduled to appear in a probable cause conference on April 30, followed by a preliminary examination on May 6.

Meanwhile, Mariah has initiated legal action against the suspect and the tavern where she allegedly consumed alcohol before the fatal crash.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist in covering the funeral costs for the children.

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