The Florida Highway Patrol is in the process of upgrading a charge against an Ocala woman to DUI manslaughter after a passenger in a car she slammed into last week died.
FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan said Wednesday that Angenette Marie Welk, 44, hasn’t yet been re-arrested. But he said his agency is working with the State Attorney’s Office to secure the higher count of DUI manslaughter to replace the lesser charge of driving under the influence with serious bodily harm she initially faced.
Welk also has been charged with two counts of DUI property damage.
Sandra Clarkston, 60, of Sarasota, died earlier this week at Ocala Regional Medical Center after succumbing to injuries she suffered in the crash. She had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Shiyanne Kroll, of Seattle, who also was transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The three-vehicle crash happened May 10 just before noon at the intersection of NW 60th Avenue and U.S. Hwy. 27, when Welk’s 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche slammed into the back of Kroll’s 2017 Hyundai Elantra. The impact pushed the front of Kroll’s car partially underneath a horse trailer that was being pulled by a 2016 Freightliner semi-truck driven by 65-year-old Kevin McMinn, of Ocala, who wasn’t injured.
At the scene, Welk told the trooper investigating the crash that she dropped her phone and when she looked up, she was about to collide with Kroll’s sedan. She also told the trooper that she was driving home from a nearby hotel where she had been staying and then said she was trying to get to a friend’s house. Welk added that “she thought” she was traveling on NW 60th Avenue when the crash occurred, according to an FHP report.
The trooper noticed that Welk had glossy eyes, slow, slurred and mumbled speech, lethargic movements, Gait Ataxia (lack of voluntary muscle movements) and a moderate odor of alcohol on her breath, so he opened a DUI investigation at the scene.
Welk failed several field sobriety tests and agreed to give a blood sample, which was taken by a paramedic at the scene. She was transported to the Marion County Jail, where she provided two breath samples showing .172 and .165 blood alcohol content – both twice Florida’s legal limit of .08. She was booked into the jail at 4:06 p.m. May 10 and released at 3:26 a.m. the following morning after posting $10,000 bond.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Stacy M. Youmans entered a not-guilty plea on Welk’s behalf. Youmans, a Florida native and former prosecutor, is with Blanchard, Merriam, Adel & Kirkland and has extensive courtroom experience. Her name is probably familiar to Villagers, as she’s also representing Brice Hall, of Weirsdale, who is facing a manslaughter charge in the death of McCall’s Tavern employee Austin Stevens in June 2016.