Police say driver was drunk and high on heroin when truck killed Middleborough woman, 18
WAREHAM -- The alleged drunk driver who caused a two-car crash that killed a female Gordon College student told authorities she used heroin, drank alcohol for hours, and then fought with her passenger for control of the steering wheel seconds before the fatal collision on Route 44 Saturday morning.
Kathleen Allen pleaded not guilty to motor vehicle homicide while drunk and other charges in Wareham District Court where the 23-year-old Middleborough woman was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail. Bail on three other criminal cases was revoked.
Allen, 23, is accused of being under the influence while driving a 2004 Dodge pickup that slammed into a Hyundai sedan being driven by 18-year-old Monica DeMello, a Middleborough resident and a freshman at the North Shore Christian college.
DeMello’s car was crushed and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Allen’s passenger, whose name was not immediately available, was badly injured when the pickup truck rolled four or five times after it smashed into DeMello’s car and had to be taken by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Allen was treated at a local hospital for bruises suffered during the crash and released.
Before Allen’s court appearance today, family spokesman Ryan Benharris spoke briefly about DeMello, who had come home to celebrate Easter with her family.
“The family is absolutely devastated. They loved everything about her. This is a young woman who never did anything wrong in her entire life,’’ Benharris said. “She never drank. She never smoked cigarettes. She was a highly religious woman. She is going to be missed deeply. It’s absolutely devastating.’’
According to Lakeville police, officers responded to Route 44 slightly east of the intersection with Millenium Circle to find two overturned vehicles. DeMello, who was from Middleborough, was pronounced dead at the scene.
In court today, Plymouth Assistant District Attorney Mary Nguyen said Allen recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.14 after the crash; 0.08 is the legal limit in Massachusetts. Allen also told police she had injected herself with heroin and drank heavily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday night, the prosecutor said.
Also prior to the crash, Nguyen said that Middleborough police were twice called to investigate complaints about Allen’s disruptive behavior at her home and she was later spotted driving a vehicle with her boyfriend.
At the time of the crash, the prosecutor said that Allen told police that while she was driving the truck on Route 44, she dropped a cigarette.
She bent down to pick it up, and then realized that she had crossed the yellow line and was heading towards incoming traffic, and that she tried to steer the vehicle safely into a parking lot, according to authorities.
But at the same time, Nguyen said, the passenger had grabbed hold of the wheel and was trying to steer the vehicle to safety herself, putting both women in a struggle to control the truck.
Allen’ s defense attorney, Patrick O’Leary, did not challenge Judge Gregory Williams’ decision to revoke Allen’s bail on three pending charges or his ruling that set bail at $100,000 cash for Allen.
Demello was a freshman who was studying psychology at Gordon College, in Wenham.
In a statement, the president of the college, called Demello’s death ‘‘a tragedy and a shock.’’Brian R. Ballou can be reached at Bballou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBallou.