Driver in fatal crash mixed drugs, alcohol, police say
SARA JEAN GREEN
Hours after new legislation tripled the prison sentence for vehicular homicide, a 31-year-old Federal Way woman allegedly caused a fatal crash after mixing prescription drugs with pink champagne.
Michelle Leigh Dittamore was charged Wednesday with vehicular homicide, accused of slamming her father’s two-seat sports car – which she didn’t have permission to drive – head-on into a vehicle driven by Jana Lynne Berry, 48. The University Place woman was killed at the scene of the June 7, late-night crash.
Dittamore, who spent nearly two days at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, was booked into the King County Jail on Saturday, where she is being held on $250,000 bail.
Dittamore’s 4-year-old son, Grayson, was in the front passenger seat and suffered bruising from the seat belt and air bag, according to charging documents. His presence in the vehicle at the time of the crash is considered an enhancement that, should Dittamore be convicted, will add a year to her sentence.
Dittamore was driving in Federal Way just after 11 p.m. when she allegedly crossed the centerline on Pacific Highway South and struck with Berry’s car head-on, charging papers allege.
The force of the collision spun Berry’s car around, and it was hit broadside by another vehicle, the papers say. Berry died instantly.
Witnesses and police found Dittamore still in the driver’s seat. A drug recognition expert observed that her “speech was slow, thick-tongued and slurred,” and that Dittamore “would stop talking in the middle of sentences” and insisted her son was with his father, charging papers say.
Dittamore allegedly had consumed one tumbler of pink Champagne and the drug Klonopin, an anti-seizure, anti-anxiety medication known to make users dizzy or drowsy, charging papers say. Her prescription for Klonopin, along with her father’s prescription for Ambien, a sleep aid, were found in Dittamore’s vehicle, the papers say.
Dittamore, whose license was suspended in 2009, apparently sneaked into her father’s bedroom and took his car keys along with his Ambien prescription, charging papers say.
She didn’t have permission to drive her father’s car, nor was she insured to drive, the papers say.
In March, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill that increased prison terms for those convicted of vehicular homicide to 6 to 81/2 years, an increase from the previous 21/2 to almost 31/2 years. The law went into effect on the day of the crash.