HAVERHILL (CBS) – A young woman who survived a deadly high-speed crash on Interstate 495 more than a year ago is now facing charges in the rollover that killed her friend.
Emily McGovern, 20, of Methuen, pleaded not guilty Friday at her arraignment in Haverhill District Court to manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide in the March 31, 2018 crash that killed 18-year-old Alexis Spartz of Methuen.READ MORE: 2 Dracut Police Cruisers Destroyed In Suspicious Fire At Station
Initially, police said Spartz was driving the 2004 Lincoln LS when it rolled over on I-495 in Haverhill.
Investigators later said there was confusion at the scene and McGovern, who was seriously hurt in the wreck, was the driver. They determined she was drunk behind the wheel, going 107 miles per hour just before the crash. Tests later showed her blood alcohol level was 0.19, according to police. The legal limit in Massachusetts is 0.08 percent and 0.02 percent if the driver is under 21. McGovern was 19 at the time of the crash.
Spartz, a 2017 graduate of Methuen High School, was rushed to Lawrence General Hospital where she died.
McGovern wasn’t charged until last month, more than a year after the crash.
Her attorney, Viktor Theiss, said he’s still trying to figure out who was driving. “We simply don’t know and therein lies reasonable doubt. If the initial report based on the ambulance record, the medical records, the initial firefighters, is that my client is the passenger, then by definition she can’t be guilty, but we have to sort that out,” he said.
“She suffered serious head injuries, she doesn’t have any recollection of events of that night,” Theiss told reporters Friday.READ MORE: It Happens Here: Learning To Play Polo, ‘The Game of Kings’, In Georgetown
So why did it take a year and two months to bring charges?
“I really don’t know. If it was as certain a case as they thought it was, I would have expected this to happen a long time ago,” Theiss said, adding that McGovern has not driven since the crash.
Spartz’s mother, Caitlyn Schelling, said it’s been “overwhelming” for her and her family.
“The process is just so long it’s a little bit frustrating. I just want justice for my daughter. I just miss her so much,” she told WBZ-TV. “Obviously, you can see all her friends are here [in court] just trying to support me and my family. But I hope justice is served.”
Schelling said McGovern was the driver.
“My daughter was the passenger. I strongly believe that with her injuries and everything else,” she said. “She was going to go far. She was going into the military, she was going to be a combat medic, so it’s sad.”MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Before McGovern was released on personal recognizance Friday, she was ordered not to drive and remain drug and alcohol-free with screenings. She’s due back in court August 8.