ELKTON — A woman who allegedly caused a chain-reaction crash that killed two Cecil County men near Chesapeake City in October 2018 has been charged with gross negligent vehicle manslaughter and numerous other offenses, according to an 18-count indictment filed against her.
The Cecil County grand jury indictment alleges that the defendant, Kimberly Ann Morgan, 29, of Chester, Pa., was under the influence of drugs and, or, alcohol at the time of the double-fatal crash — which occurred on Oct. 16, 2018 on Augustine Herman Highway (Route 213), near Spears Hill Road.
Richard Gestewitz, 53, of Charlestown, and his front-seat passenger, Charles Sutton, 70, of North East, were killed in the domino-effect collision.
Four other people, including Morgan, suffered injuries in the traffic accident.
In addition to two gross negligent vehicular manslaughter charges, Morgan is facing multiple counts also relating to the deaths of Gestewitz and Sutton — including vehicular homicide while impaired by a “combination of drugs and by a drug,” criminally negligent manslaughter and driving “while so far impaired by a drug or drugs” that operator the cannot drive safely, court records show.
Morgan also is charged with reckless driving, negligent driving, failure to stay right of the centerline and other traffic offenses, according to court records, which indicate that her jury trial is scheduled to start March 31 and is expected to last three days.
Investigators arrested Morgan on Tuesday, after a year-long Maryland State Police investigation that resulted in the indictment filed against her.
Morgan spent approximately five nights in the Cecil County Detention, before posting a $10,000 bond on Sunday to gain her pre-trial freedom.
On Nov. 20, four days earlier, Morgan was clad in an inmate uniform when she appeared in the courtroom on a closed-circuit television for her bail review hearing.
During that proceeding in front of Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis Jr., prosectors reported that Morgan exhibited “signs of impairment” shortly after the double-fatal crash.
Moreover, Assistant State’s Attorney Emma Lee Hohner told the judge that MSP investigators found Xanax, which is a prescription sedative, and Suboxone, a medicine used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms, inside Morgan’s vehicle.
The prosecutor also reported that Morgan was an unlicensed driver at the time of the double-fatal crash.
Hohner acknowledged that Morgan has an otherwise clean criminal record, but, citing the “incredibly serious charges” against her and the risk of Morgan operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner, she asked Davis to set a secured $100,000 bond.
Morgan’s assistant public defender, Gary Brown, reported that his client is a single mother with an 8-year-old child and that she lives with her father and works as a babysitter.
Brown urged the judge to consider Morgan’s limited income, as well as her otherwise unblemished record, when determining her bond, which Davis duly noted.
MSP officials reported that Morgan was driving a white Mitsubishi Galant in the northbound lane on Route 213, near the Chesapeake City Bridge, at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2018, when her car crossed the double-yellow centerline and entered the southbound lane.
Morgan’s car then crashed into Gestewitz’s southbound Mazda pickup truck, which, also occupied by Sutton, was towing a small boat on a trailer, according to police.
A third vehicle, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck driven by Kenneth Haines, 60, of Elkton, was traveling south behind the Mazda when it struck that truck’s boat trailer after the first crash, police said.
At that point, police added, the boat ricocheted into the northbound lane, where a northbound Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Watson Tinch, 55, of Galena, also struck it.
Cecil County Department of Emergency Services paramedics pronounced Gestewitz and Sutton dead at the scene, according to police.
An MSP helicopter crew flew Morgan to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where doctors treated her for what investigators described at the time as “life-threatening injuries,” police said.
Meanwhile, her passenger, Caitlyn Little, 21, of Colora, was taken by ambulance to Christiana Hospital in Delaware for treatment of her injuries, police reported.
An ambulance crew drove Haines to Christiana Hospital for treatment of his injuries, while a different ambulance crew transported Tinch to Union Hospital in Elkton for treatment of his injuries, according to police.
The crash forced emergency workers to close a portion of Route 213 for several hours. Traffic was detoured onto nearby Spears Hill Road.
Gestewitz’s relatives told the Cecil Whig that Gestewitz and Sutton, a dear family friend, were avid outdoorsmen and that they were traveling south to make their last crabbing outing of the season, when they were killed in the chain-reaction crash.