KANE, Pa. – A northwestern Pennsylvania woman has been jailed on charges she was under the influence of prescription medicine when she crashed head-on into another vehicle on Labor Day weekend, killing her young daughter, nephew and four people in the other vehicle.
Kathleen S. Douglas, 37, of Kane, was arraigned Wednesday on six counts each of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance and 24 counts of other charges, including involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment, the Bradford Era reported (http://bit.ly/HrqKEM ).
State police charge that Douglas had levels of clonazepam in her blood "several times greater" than she should have given her prescribed dosage. The drug is used to treat a variety of conditions including epilepsy and panic disorder and "can cause sedation, impairment of cognition, confusion and disorientation," according to a criminal complaint.
Douglas' sport utility vehicle crossed the center line the afternoon of Aug. 31 and hit an approaching car on U.S. Route 219 in the Allegheny National Forest, killing her nephew, 6-year-old Jarrett Costanzo, and 12-year-old daughter, Olivia.
Also killed in the crash were four adults in the sedan, Gary Beimel, 62; his wife, Elaine, 55; David Cuneo, 54; and Florence Donachy, 81. They were all from St. Marys, just southeast of the forest.
More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims the next night at the football field at Kane Area Middle School, where Olivia Douglas was a cheerleader.
Douglas was seriously injured in the crash, as was her 10-year-old son. She wasn't charged until Oct. 11 because she was recovering.
Douglas faces a preliminary hearing Dec. 12. She has made repeated court appearances the past three years and charged with crimes or issued citations on 27 occasions. Most of the charges were of theft, forgery or bad check offenses, and the citations were because her children have failed to attend school regularly, according to court records.
Those records don't list an attorney for Douglas, who remained in the McKean County Jail on Thursday.
Information from: The Bradford Era, http://www.bradfordera.com