Crime & Courts

Rollover crash that killed 2-year-old led to DUI and assault charges for his mother

A 2-year-old boy died Wednesday of injuries from a high-speed crash in Anchorage last week that led to charges of assault and driving under the influence for his 22-year-old mother, according to police and charging documents filed in the case.

Investigators calculated that the Kia Santa Fe was traveling southbound on Lake Otis Parkway at nearly 95 mph as it crossed the Dowling Road intersection before the early morning crash on Aug. 31, according to charges filed by Assistant District Attorney David Buettner. The car changed lanes several times, leaving skid marks on the pavement, the charges said.

Cheyenne McMullen, the driver of the car and the boy’s mother, is being held on $25,000 bail for charges of felony first-degree assault and misdemeanor driving under the influence, according to the charges.

The state Department of Law is evaluating whether to pursue additional charges in light of the boy’s death, a spokeswoman said.

Police responding to a report of a single-vehicle rollover near the intersection of 63rd Avenue and Lake Otis around 3:20 a.m. found the car upside down near a damaged fence and tree, the charges said. It also apparently struck a light pole.

McMullen and her son were inside the overturned vehicle, police said.

The toddler was not responsive or moving when police arrived, according to the charges. An officer began CPR until medics arrived and brought him to a hospital, the charges said. Police at the time described his injuries as life threatening. He is not named in the charges.

An officer who helped McMullen out of the car could smell alcohol on her breath and her speech was slurred, the charges said. Police said she was taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

A breath test taken nearly four hours after the crash showed McMullen’s breath alcohol content measured almost three times the legal limit, the charges said.

Traffic camera footage from the intersection of Lake Otis and Dowling Road showed McMullen’s car leave the roadway and disappear from view at 2:22 a.m., the charges said.

A man called police when he saw the overturned car as he drove to work about an hour later, the charges said. He said he tried to ask McMullen questions and did not see anyone else in the car.

McMullen was arrested after she was discharged from an Anchorage hospital and she was taken to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River, the charges said.

The boy died on Wednesday, according to police spokeswoman Cherie Zajdzinski.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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