WAYNE — A woman believed to have started an April chain-reaction car crash on Interstate 64 that resulted in the death of 70-year-old Jerrell Simmons has turned herself into police more than a month after the incident.
Elizabeth Lewis, 39, who has been living in Guyandotte and is accused of driving while intoxicated before the crash, was arraigned in Cabell County on Monday afternoon.
She is charged with DUI causing death, DUI causing injury and DUI with a suspended or revoked license.
Wayne County Prosecutor Tom Plymale said a criminal complaint charging Lewis with DUI resulting in injury was filed after the crash, but Lewis was released from the hospital before police were able to pick her up.
The incident occurred at about 10:50 a.m. April 7 on I-64 westbound at mile marker 4 at a bridge that spans Spring Valley Drive. Huntington police determined five vehicles — three passenger cars and two tractor-trailers — were involved in a chain-reaction crash that led to Simmons' vehicle leaving the road and falling an estimated 100 feet into a creek just east of the Spring Valley Bridge.
Lewis was located in the drivers seat of the vehicle police determined caused the crash, according to her criminal complaint. The passenger, who has not been charged, was alert and stated they had been using drugs.
Both Lewis and the passenger were administered naloxone, an opioid overdose reversing drug.
According to the criminal complaint, at the hospital, Lewis was suffering from a significant amount of pain and struggled with medical personnel as they attempted to treat her injuries, to the point she had to be restrained. She also had a significant amount of injection sites in both of her arms, making it difficult for a nurse to find a viable vein for IV medications, according to the complaint.
Officers were able to question Lewis before she was sedated. She stated she was not driving and she did not remember anything.
The passenger said she did not know Lewis but that they had used drugs together the day of the crash.
Lewis' Ohio driver's license had been revoked for DUI. She was convicted of DUI in November of 2009 in West Virginia. She also has a previous conviction for suspended revoked license for DUI from September of 2011.
Simmons was also taken to the hospital after the crash. The final three weeks of his life were documented in Facebook videos filmed by his son, Lane Simmons. The elder Simmons remained unconscious but stable at Cabell Huntington Hospital with five fractured vertebrae, two broken legs, two punctured lungs by four broken ribs, a broken clavicle and a broken nose.
He came in and out of consciousness a few times during his hospitalization, but as his condition turned worse his family made the decision to remove him from life support. He died April 28, 21 days after the crash.
Lewis is being housed in the Western Regional Jail on a $750,000 cash-only bond.
Reporter Taylor Stuck contributed to this report.
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