- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ROSEVILLE, MICH. (AP) - A woman prosecutors say was drunk when her van struck a car, killing four teenagers, was charged with second-degree murder Tuesday.

Authorities said Frances Patricia Dingle’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent Monday night when her vehicle slammed into a car that had been waiting to make a turn in the Detroit suburb of Roseville. Three of the victims were students at Lake Shore High School in St. Clair Shores, where classmates tearfully consoled each other Tuesday.

“Her actions in this case are egregious,” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith told WWJ-AM.

Dingle, 47, of Clinton Township, is charged with four counts each of second-degree murder and driving under the influence causing death. A murder conviction could bring a life prison sentence; the other charges carry a 15-year maximum.

Dingle was arraigned Tuesday at St. John Macomb Hospital, where she was being treated for non-serious injuries sustained in the crash, Roseville Deputy Police Chief James Berlin said.

She was ordered held in lieu of $1 million cash bond. A preliminary exam is scheduled for March 25.

James Simasko, a lawyer who represented Dingle in a divorce case, said she had battled substance abuse in the past.

“According to the family, she’s been sober for approximately three years but recently relapsed,” he said. “So they’re devastated, and their hearts and prayers go out” to the victims’ families.

Simasko said he hadn’t spoken to Dingle and was not yet representing her in the criminal case.

Killed were Devon Spurlock, 19, who was driving the car, Erica Haudek, 15, and Stephanie Currie and Jordan Michalak, both 16. All went to Lake Shore High except Spurlock, who was a senior in an alternative education program.

Grief counseling has been made available for students and teachers affected by the tragedy, said Christopher Loria, superintendent of Lake Shore Public Schools.

Alexis Klatt, a friend of Haudek’s, went to the site of the crash Tuesday to pay her respects. Standing on a narrow, grassy median just steps from where the crash occurred, the 15-year-old wept and clutched her mother’s hand as vehicles zipped past.

“They need to be remembered. The woman who killed them, she’s going to be fine,” Klatt said.

She said the victims “were all great. They were fun, outgoing. They loved life. They don’t deserve this.”

Dingle had her license suspended four times in 2008 stemming from unpaid tickets and driver responsibility fees, according to the secretary of state’s office. Since Sept. 26 of last year, she has had a valid license.

___

Ben Leubsdorf reported from Detroit. Associated Press Writer David Eggert in Lansing contributed to this report.

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