Lawyer of suspect in fatal Oklahoma State crash concerned about client’s mental state

Posted at 6:01 AM, Oct 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-26 14:18:20-04

Was it alcohol or something else that caused Adacia Chambers to allegedly plow into a homecoming parade over the weekend, killing four people including a 2-year-old boy?

Stillwater police have released the mugshot of Adacia Avery Chambers, she is the suspect that plowed into the crowd at the OSU parade.

Chambers’ attorney Tony Coleman told CNN on Monday that his client was not drunk, though he said he’s making that determination based on meeting with her hours after the incident.

“I didn’t detect any signs nor was there an odor of alcohol coming from her body,” he said.

His client had a standard field sobriety test, he said. “Her poor performance” on that test led officers to believe she was “impaired,” he said.

Coleman said he believes she may have a mental health issue. During the hour he met with Chambers, he said, she gave “inappropriate answers” to his questions. He also said she had a “flat affect” when reacting to his description of the car crashing into the parade.

‘Warning signs’

On Sunday, Coleman said that mental illness runs in his client’s family.

He also told reporters Sunday that “there have been warning signs coming from Ms. Chambers for quite some time, for the past few years.”

Coleman wouldn’t elaborate on what he meant by warning signs, but said the first thing he will request when Chambers appears before a judge Monday is a mental health evaluation.

The 25-year-old faces four counts of second-degree murder. She allegedly drove into a crowd gathered for the parade before Oklahoma State University’s homecoming game in Stillwater on Saturday, injuring an additional 47 people. Eleven of them were 13 years of age or younger.

Seventeen injured people remain in the hospital, four of whom are in critical condition.

Here’s a recap of how it happened and an update on some of the victims.

Festive OSU fans

“America’s brightest orange.” The proud slogan of Oklahoma State University well describes the scene of the crowd lined up on a street, decked out in orange jerseys to cheer their team on against the University of Kansas Jayhawks.

For many, it was a family outing with children in tow. And fans were hopeful for OSU’s undefeated Cowboys, nationally ranked No. 10 by USA Today’s Coaches’ Poll.

The mood couldn’t have plunged more dramatically in an instant.

Sudden impact

Out of the blue, a car plowed into the masses after bouncing off a parked police motorcycle. From a distance, fans saw the car punching into the crowd.

“I can’t describe it any more clearly than this: people flying in the air,” OSU graduate student Paul Sims said.

Student Kailey Carter saw the car coming and tried to sprint. It knocked her airborne.

“The car hit me as it was stopping, and then I flew over some strollers,” she told CNN affiliate KJRH, holding up a bandaged left wrist.

Geoff Haxton stood about 100 yards from the crash site watching the aftermath.

“All there was was smoke and panic. Half the emergency personnel in the county were here,” Haxton said. “People were running. (My) first instinct was to get my kids away from the street.”

The victims

Madison Atwell, 7, survived the lunging car with six broken ribs, a concussion and stitches, her family said.

But someone may have died while saving Madison.

Her aunt, Julie Franklin, said a woman at the scene pushed Madison out of the way. The car took the woman’s life instead, Franklin said.

Among the four dead were Marvin Stone, 65, a retired OSU professor and researcher, the school said. His 65-year-old wife, Bonnie, died too. She had worked for the university for more than 30 years.

The 2-year-old boy who died was Nash Lucas, the son of another OSU employee, Nicolette Strauch, who survived, the school said.

Nikita Prabhakar, 23, was visiting Stillwater. She was an MBA student at University of Central Oklahoma, her school said. Prabhakar was originally from Mumbai, India.

Worried loved ones

At a local hospital, Mark McNitt kept vigil with family on Sunday, as loved ones waited to hear the results of surgeries and medical tests performed on the severely injured.

His stepfather, Leo Schmitz, 54, was one of the four clinging to life in critical condition.

“It’s been a crazy 24 hours,” McNitt said, tearing up. A day before, Schmitz was standing by his side at the parade.

“All I remember is a gush of wind, and then the sound,” McNitt said. Then chaos broke out as if a bomb had gone off.

He was thankful for the doctors’ work and the care that people from across the state have shown. “We feel the love, and we’ll get through this,” he said.

Somber stadium

On Saturday, after careful deliberation, officials decided to let the football game proceed, OSU President Burns Hargis said.

Before the game, the football team knelt in solemn prayer at the 25-yard line.

Fox Sports sportscaster Tim Brando described the pregame atmosphere as “the kind of somber feeling” like he’d never felt before. OSU won the game handily.

Late Sunday, students filled a campus square to light candles and pray for the dead and the injured.

“We gather to embrace and remember,” the university tweeted. It offered counseling services to students and faculty.