The Florida driver told police she had dropped her phone while driving last week — and that moments later, as she looked back up, she was ramming into the car in front of her.
But there was more to the story than that, according to police: As officers spoke to the driver they say caused the Ocala, Florida, crash — Angenette Welk, 44 — they noticed her eyes were glossy, she was slurring and mumbling her speech and her breath smelled of alcohol. Welk was arrested on charges of driving under the influence around noon on May 10 after the incident, Villages News reports.
Welk was booked at the Marion County Jail, the Ocala Banner Star reports, and was release on $10,000 bond May 11, the day after her arrest. And now — following the death of a woman injured in the crash — the highway patrol is working with prosecutors to enhance Welk’s DUI charges to manslaughter.
As Welk rear-ended the Hyundai stopped in front of her on U.S. Route 27, she sent it straight into a stopped tractor-trailer on the highway, police said. That left the Hyundai’s 18-year-old driver with minor injuries, WKMG reports. The driver’s 60-year-old mother, meanwhile, was seriously injured in the wreck — and died several days later at an Orlando hospital.
The family of Sandra Clarkston, the 60-year-old victim, said they were insulted to see the ear-to-ear smile in Welk’s mugshot.
"That disgusts me and that means she has no remorse for what she did at all and I hope that judge sees that picture and says the same thing," Shiyanne Kroll, the driver who sustained minor injuries, told WKMG.
One of Clarkston’s other children said his mother’s death has left the entire family devastated.
“She was a great mom,” Keith Zetzer told the Ocala Star Banner. “We’re taking the news very hard … Our family is asking for them to prosecute to the fullest extent.”
Welk had been traveling east in her Chevrolet Avalanche on the highway when she struck the Hyundai carrying Clarkston, police said. Clarkston was a resident of Sarasota. The driver of the tractor-trailer, which was carrying horses, was uninjured, the Ocala Star Banner reports.
Welk failed the voluntary field sobriety tests that she took after the crash, police said. She also took a breathalyzer test twice at the jail, blowing blood alcohol content levels of .172 and .165, Villages News reports. Florida’s legal limit for driving is .08 — less than half the level blown in either of Welk's samples.
Clarkston’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover funeral costs.
“Please don't drink and drive,” Zetzer wrote on the page.