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Thu, April 25

County attorney to consider charges in double-fatal wreck<BR>

PRESCOTT – The Yavapai County Attorney's Office will now determine whether to press criminal charges against a 38-year-old Prescott woman who allegedly caused a May double-fatal accident on Highway 89 near Paulden.

Ivan Thomas Emley, 86, died at the scene and his wife, Olinda Lillian Emley, 81, suffered critical injuries. She died 11 days later at John C. Lincoln North Hospital in Phoenix.

Department of Public Safety Sgt. Tim Bolger said his agency forwarded the case Monday to the county attorney for a determination whether enough evidence exists to press criminal charges against Elizabeth Ellen Matthews.

Although the officers completed the preliminary investigation, they still must determine how fast Matthews was driving before she hit the first vehicle, he said.

DPS Lt. Frank Lopez said that this part of the investigation will not have a huge impact on the case because they have collected the evidence which proves that "she was obviously on the wrong side of the road."

"She was not paying attention," he said.

On May 28, Matthews, who was southbound on Highway 89, apparently tried to pass a tractor-trailer despite a double yellow lane, Bolger said previously.

He said it appears that she was in the northbound lane when she hit a pickup, which tried to avoid a collision.

He said Matthews' vehicle then hit the Emleys' sedan, which was northbound, right behind the pickup. A tractor-trailer avoided the accident, he said.

Three other people suffered injuries in the accident, including Matthews.

The Emleys' daughter-in-law, Alice Faulkner of Paulden, said her in-laws were visiting her family. She said they left her home at around 5:40 p.m. just 20 minutes before the accident occurred. Early the next morning DPS officers informed them about the accident, she said.

"It has really taken a toll on our family," she said. "They were very healthy senior citizens. They were so full of life."

Lopez said Matthews was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when her vehicle crashed. He said that his agency did not obtain a blood sample from Matthews because it didn't have a probable cause.

"You have to believe that (a person is) under the influence of drugs or alcohol to be able to obtain a warrant to get blood," he said, adding that Matthews is not likely to face manslaughter or negligent homicide charges in this case.

"We have a strong case for endangerment," he said, adding that the county attorney will ultimately decide what charges, if any, to press in the case.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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