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Man charged with DUI in fatal accident

Mar. 18, 2013 @ 05:14 PM

HUNTINGTON — A previously convicted drunken driver has been charged in a fatal accident that killed a Kenova woman on Sunday.

The Huntington Police Department issued a press release late afternoon Monday indicating it has charged Michael Shane Couch with driving under the influence causing death, a felony.

It stems from a head-on vehicle crash Sunday that killed Deborah L. Rakes of Kenova. The accident happened at 1:02 p.m. Sunday on 5th Street Hill. Weather was not a contributing factor, according to Huntington Police Capt. Mike Albers.

The accident happened when a 1998 Dodge Caravan, driven by Couch, crossed the center line and struck Rakes’ oncoming Toyota Camry, according to a press release issued by Albers. The collision happened near the crest of a hill at the road’s intersection with Ridgewood Road.

Couch had not been arrested as of early Monday evening, Albers said.

Rakes’ vehicle sustained significant damage to the driver’s side. It came to rest on a hillside in the northbound lane of 5th Street Hill just south of Honeysuckle Lane.

The Caravan was not registered to Couch at the time of the accident and he was driving on a suspended/revoked license for a prior drunken driving crash, Albers said.

Emergency crews had to cut both drivers from the wreckage. Both were taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where Rakes died a short time later.

Albers described Couch’s injuries as moderate. The captain was unsure as to the suspect’s condition or location late Monday.

Investigators had not received blood test results as of Monday evening, yet Albers said other evidence collected gave police reason to file Monday’s warrant. He declined specific comment about how officers reached that determination.

A preliminary look at Couch’s history revealed at least two prior drunken driving convictions, Albers said. He noted that one incident involved injury in 2005.

Fifth Street Hill was closed to traffic for more than two hours following the accident.