Crime

Driver accused of ‘extreme’ DUI arraigned on murder charge in girl’s Lexington death

A woman who was driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit now faces murder and assault charges in connection with a July crash that killed a 10-year-old girl, according to Lexington police.

Sequoyah Collins, 24, was allegedly driving more than 80 mph with an “extreme level of alcohol intoxication” when she struck a car carrying two adults and four children at about 3 a.m. July 5 on Tates Creek Road and Lansdowne Drive, police said Tuesday. The speed limit is 45 mph in the area.

Collins was arraigned Wednesday on her new charges in Fayette County District Court. She appeared by video conference from the Fayette County jail, and Judge John Lindsay Tackett entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. She will have a preliminary hearing on Sept. 10.

Collins had been released on bond after her initial DUI charge. But she was arrested again on Tuesday, and her bond was set at $530,000 full cash. Due to the severity of the charges against Collins, Tackett did not lower the bond at Wednesday’s arraignment. Tackett said her bond could be revisited on her Sept. 10 court date.

Witnesses reported that she ran a red light, police said. Initially charged with driving under the influence, Collins was uninjured.

One child, Alexia Gomez Hernandez, died at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital about four hours after the crash, the Fayette County coroner’s office previously said. The adults and two of the other children were injured.

Lexington police Sgt. Randall Combs said Tuesday that Lexington police charged Collins with murder rather than manslaughter because the speed at which she was going and her level of intoxication “shows an extreme indifference” to human life.

In addition to the new count of murder and the DUI charge, Collins has been charged with two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment over other victims injured in the crash, police said.

Five of the six people in the car were taken to the hospital after the wreck. One of the four children in the car was relatively uninjured and was not taken to the hospital, police said Tuesday. Police said in documents filed in court that the driver of that car was the only one in the vehicle wearing a seat belt. The children ranged in age from 9 to 12 years old.

Collins smelled strongly of alcohol, particularly when she spoke, according to court records. Her arresting officer also reported that Collins was unsteady on her feet, had slurred speech and had bloodshot, watery eyes.

Collins showed “several signs of impairment” during her field sobriety test and refused a breath or blood-alcohol test when she arrived at the Fayette County jail, according to court records.

Combs said police then got a warrant to have Collins’ blood drawn. The toxicology results showed that her blood-alcohol level was 0.211 at the time of the draw, which was nearly four hours after the crash, Combs said. The legal limit is 0.08.

Collins pleaded not guilty to her DUI charge in July. Family of Alexia Gonzalez were present for a pretrial conference Tuesday, but the hearing was moved to Oct. 8.

Herald-Leader reporter Morgan Eads contributed to this report.

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