A Gallatin woman has been charged with vehicular homicide following the death of a 14-month-old child who was left trapped in a submerged vehicle after a hit-and-run crash on Highway 25 last month.
The wreck occurred on Aug. 16 near Cummings Lane when a silver Hyundai driven by Michaela Morales, 34, of Gallatin attempted to illegally pass an SUV and struck the vehicle causing it swerve off the road, according to local law enforcement officials.
“The passing maneuver was performed in a no passing zone and was not suitable for the roadway conditions,” Sgt. Dustin Hood with the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an arrest affidavit. “Witnesses hear(d) the collision and came to render aid, hearing the (suspect’s vehicle) accelerate from the scene.”
After the SUV swerved off the road, it struck a fence, a culvert, went airborne and struck a tree before it came to rest upside down in a pond, according to court documents. The 14-month-old child, who was in a rear-facing child restraint seat in the backseat of the vehicle, was submerged under the water and mud for “several minutes” prior to being removed.
The child was taken to an area hospital in critical condition. She died less than two weeks later after being taken off life-support on Aug. 28.
During the course of their investigation, detectives were able to identify Morales as being the owner of the suspected hit-and-run vehicle, according to the affidavit. When deputies arrived at her home on Lackey Circle, they found the Hyundai with damage consistent with the wreck. Morales was also described as having blood-shot eyes, smelling like burnt marijuana and being lethargic when she answered the door.
In addition to vehicular homicide, Morales has also been charged with driving under the influence, vehicular assault, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident and implied consent, according to court records. She is scheduled to appear in Sumner County General Sessions Court on Sept. 22.