November 13, 1997 in Nation/World

Driver: Didn’t Know Boy Was Hit She Thought Car Hit Post Or Sign, Says Accused Woman’s Attorney

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Connie Bickley did not know her car had struck a child when she drove away from an accident that killed a 13-year-old Post Falls Middle School student, her attorney said Wednesday.

The 54-year-old Post Falls woman was on her way back to the scene to figure out what had happened when she was arrested, said Bickley’s attorney, Glen Walker.

“It was just pitch-black dark,” Walker said. “She thought she had hit a small post or sign or something.”

A criminal complaint filed Wednesday by prosecutors charges Bickley with vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of the accident that killed Nicholas R. Scherling less than two blocks from his home.

Court documents accuse Bickley of gross negligence “by passing another vehicle on the righthand shoulder portion of the road” and drunken driving.

Blood taken from Bickley shortly after her arrest is being tested by the state crime lab. The results will not be available for several days.

Walker said Bickley had been drinking with friends before the accident, but was not drunk. He refused to say how much she had to drink.

She posted $5,000 bail Wednesday afternoon and made no comment as she walked out of the Kootenai County Jail flanked by about a half-dozen supporters.

Bickley’s fiance, who was driving behind her and witnessed Monday night’s accident, has not been charged. His involvement in the incident is under investigation, prosecutors said.

Scherling was hit from behind by Bickley’s 1986 pickup about 6:15 p.m. as he walked in the dirt along an unlighted portion of Seltice Way near McGuire Road, police said. The seventh-grader, who was on his way home from school, died at the scene.

“She is devastated and filled with remorse,” Walker said. “She will never get over this the rest of her life.”

Virginia Scherling, the boy’s grandmother, said the family empathizes with Bickley and her family and is content to let justice take its course.

“She has a rough road,” Scherling said.

Bickley had met three friends at a bar before the accident, her attorney said. She stayed about an hour and a half and was on her way home to have dinner when her pickup strayed from the roadway.

Walker said Bickley stopped and noticed a small dent in her pickup, but neither she nor her fiance realized she had hit Scherling, who was carrying his broken bicycle.

Her fiance questioned a man who was taking down her license plate number and the two left when he did not respond, Walker said. Both drove back to her Post Falls home.

Concern over how the man acted at the scene prompted the two to go back, Walker said. However, Idaho State Police officers arrested her as she was leaving.

“She was still grossly negligent in that she didn’t realize she hit a young boy on the shoulder or that she was too drunk to remember,” Douglas said. “That’s what we’re alleging.”

Bickley faces up to 15 years in prison, $15,000 in fines and could lose her driver’s license indefinitely if convicted of both crimes.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color)

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

FUNERAL AND DONATIONS

Funeral services for Nicholas Scherling will be Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Post Falls.

Family members plan to set up the Nicholas Foundation to help children in need participate in extracurricular activities. Donations also can be made to any Bank or America branch in Nicholas Scherling’s name.

This sidebar appeared with the story: FUNERAL AND DONATIONS Funeral services for Nicholas Scherling will be Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Post Falls. Family members plan to set up the Nicholas Foundation to help children in need participate in extracurricular activities. Donations also can be made to any Bank or America branch in Nicholas Scherling’s name.


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