A 57-year-old woman was charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence last week in a July golf cart crash that left a Spokane police officer dead.
Julie Nikkola was charged with vehicular manslaughter and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence on Wednesday, according to court documents.
Nikkola, Spokane police officers Jeffery Barrington and Jeffery McCollough along with McCollough’s, wife Trina McCollough, and passenger James Allen were in a golf cart at about 9:30 p.m. July 15 when they crashed near West Lakeshore Road and Luby Bay Road in Bonner County, according to court documents.
Bonner County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene a short time later. Jeffery McCollough, 52, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other passengers were taken to the hospital with various non-life -threatening injuries, according to court documents.
Nikkola told investigators she was driving when they began going too fast and the golf car began to wobble, according to deputy reports. One of the passengers reached over and jerked the wheel of the cart causing it to flip, Nikkola told deputies.
Another couple were driving behind the golf cart and told investigators Nikkola was the driver with the McCulloughs riding in the back of the vehicle. The witnesses told police they saw the cart begin to wobble right before the crash.
Deputies turned the investigation over to the Idaho State Police, who met the passengers and Nikkola at Newport Hospital.
Nikkola admitted to having two alcoholic drinks before driving, according to court documents. The trooper could smell alcohol on Nikkola’s breath, he wrote. More than three hours after the crash, Nikkola’s breath tests showed an alcohol level of .078 and .077. The blood test showed her alcohol level was a .091 about three hours after the crash, according to court documents.
Investigators wrote they believe Nikkola’s blood alcohol level was higher at the time of the crash. The legal limit in Idaho is .08.
The Idaho State Patrol did not immediately respond to request for comment Monday. ISP refused to release any information on the crash for months beyond a vague news release.
McCollough’s death was a shock to the police department, according to a statement released at the time of the crash.
“The loss is understandably shocking and heart-wrenching for the friends and family of Jeff, as well as SPD as a whole,” the statement reads. “Jeff was a beloved colleague and dedicated public servant.”
Barrington has returned to work as a Spokane police officer.
If convicted, Nikkola faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Nikkola was not in jail as of Monday afternoon.
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