Women charged in crash that killed toddler

Sarah Perry
Staff Writer

Two Arkadelphia women have been formally charged in Saline County Circuit Court in connection with a fatal accident in November 2017.

On Nov. 10, Arkansas State Police responded to a single-vehicle rollover accident on Interstate 30 approximately a half mile west of mile marker 109.

Laquinta Berry, 29, who is facing a charge of manslaughter, was a passenger in the vehicle, along with her two children who were 2 and 4-years-old at the time.

Michelle Russey, 30, who is facing a negligent homicide charge, was driving, according to an affidavit written by Arkansas State Police.

Russey was driving westbound when the vehicle left the roadway to the right and traveled approximately 20 feet before veering left, causing the vehicle to rotate slightly counterclockwise. The vehicle continued to travel through the grass for approximately 171 feet before the front bumper collided with the backside of a guardrail. Eventually the vehicle flipped, landing on its top, according to the affidavit.

During the crash, Berry’s 2-year-old child was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene by Saline County Coroner Kevin Cleghorn. Neither child was restrained in car seats and all rear seat belts were unbuckled at the time of the accident, according to the affidavit.

While being interviewed by ASP, Russey said that she invited Berry to spend the evening in Little Rock. Berry did not bring car seats for the children and only secured the children with the vehicle’s seat belts. Russey said while in Little Rock, both women consumed three Bud Light beers each. Russey also consumed approximately 12 ounces of a “Lime-A-Rita” alcoholic beverage and smoked four to five “blunts” of marijuana, the trooper wrote in the affidavit.

Russey said the accident occurred when she fell asleep while driving back to Arkadelphia.

According to information filed in Saline County Circuit Court on Feb. 8, Berry’s blood alcohol content was .04 and Russey’s blood alcohol content was .14.