- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ELLSWORTH, Wis. (AP) - A western Wisconsin woman is accused of chatting on Facebook before a crash that killed three children, including her daughter and two nieces, in December 2013.

Kari Jo Milberg, 34, of Centuria, was charged Friday with three felony counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving, KARE-TV (https://kare11.tv/1zLotHN) reported.

Cellphone records show Milberg was sending and receiving Facebook chat messages just before the crash, Pierce County investigators allege.

Authorities believe driver inattention contributed to the Dec. 12, 2013, crash on Wisconsin Highway 35 near Prescott.

Milberg’s sport utility vehicle collided with a truck after Milberg apparently lost control on a curve. Milberg’s 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, died at the scene. Milberg’s two 5-year-old nieces, Laynie Jo Amos of Amery and Clara Pavek of Prescott, died at hospitals. Milberg was critically injured, and her 3-year-old son had minor injuries. The truck driver and his two passengers were not hurt.

Online court records do not list a defense attorney for Milberg. A telephone listing with her name had a busy signal.

Investigators recovered a bottle of oxycodone painkiller pills and two cellphones from Milberg’s SUV, KARE-TV reported. Blood tests showed that oxycodone and a sedative were present in Milberg’s system at “therapeutic levels” at the time of the crash. The spring following the crash, investigators found a third cellphone at the accident scene that had been thrown from Milberg’s SUV.

Investigators also determined that the SUV’s tires were badly worn and unable to channel moisture that may have been on the road.

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