Seat belts not used in fatal Mitchell crash, state report saysDocument also places driver's impact speed at 55 mph
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
The 9-year-old girl who died March 24 of injuries suffered in a traffic crash in downtown Mitchell was not wearing a seat belt, according to an accident report newly obtained by The Daily Republic.
The report also says the man who was driving the other vehicle and allegedly caused the crash was traveling at an estimated speed of 55 mph at impact.
The state Department of Public Safety accident report on the fatal crash says at least five of the six occupants of the vehicle carrying Iszabella Morgan, of Mitchell, were not wearing seat belts when it was hit by another vehicle driven by 46-year-old Michael Sedlmeier, who was also not wearing a seat belt.
The state report, which is not included in the local court file, does not say whether 8-month-old Brielle Zilla was properly restrained. A child’s car seat could be seen in the vehicle at the accident scene.
The five other occupants of the vehicle Morgan was in suffered serious injuries, but all were treated and released from Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell the day of the crash.
Sedlmeier had only minor injuries after the crash and refused medical treatment.
Authorities allege Sedlmeier was fleeing from police and driving drunk when he ran the stop sign at the intersection of Duff Street and First Avenue while heading southbound on Duff. The newly obtained report reveals for the first time his estimated speed at the time of impact: 55 mph. The speed limit on the street is 25 mph, the accident report says.
According to the report, after Sedlmeier entered the intersection driving a 1998 Ford Taurus, he collided with the left rear portion of the 2006 GMC Yukon Denali driven by Misty Beth Zilla, 34, carrying Morgan and the four other passen-gers. Morgan was sitting in the third and last row of seats on the driver’s side, nearest to the point of impact.
Sitting next to Morgan on the passenger’s side of the third row was McKenna Mentzel, 9, of Mitchell. Both Morgan and Mentzel were totally ejected from the vehicle, the accident report states.
After the collision, the Denali traveled to the southeast corner of the intersection and struck the curb before coming to rest, with Sedlmeier’s vehicle stopped nearby in the southwest corner of the intersection.
The report states front airbags on both vehicles deployed in the crash. For four of the passengers in the Denali, the re-port says “not deployed” in the airbag field. It’s unclear whether the Denali had side airbags that did not deploy, or had no side airbags at all.
Estimated cost of the damage to the Denali was $10,000, the report says, and $5,000 to the Taurus.
According to the police affidavit on the events, the pursuing officer, Mitchell Patrol Officer Russ Stevenson, chased Sedlmeier a short distance on foot after the crash before arresting him.
Sedlmeier was charged by a grand jury on March 30 with first-degree manslaughter, drunken driving, aggravated eluding, vehicular homicide, hit-and-run causing death or injury, and reckless driving.
First-degree manslaughter, the most serious offense, is a felony punishable by life in prison and a $50,000 fine.
He is being held at Davison County Jail with bond set at $500,000 and is scheduled to be arraigned in court later this month.