By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
An alleged drunk driver could spend 40 years in prison if convicted on felony charges for causing a “wrong-way” crash near El Reno that killed four people – two of them children.
Moore’s Ashley Louise Ricks, 33, was charged Dec. 3 in Canadian County District Court with four counts of second-degree murder, or in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter.
The felony charge stems from a fiery crash that occurred about 1:37 a.m. Oct. 17 on Interstate 40 West near mile marker 120.
Ricks caused the deaths of four people by “driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol on a public road in the wrong direction (on a divided highway) for approximately nine miles at excessive speeds” resulting in an automobile collision, according to court documents.
Prosecutors allege Ricks engaged in this conduct “with contemptuous and reckless disregard of, and in total indifference to, the life and safety of human life”, although this was done without premeditation to cause someone’s death.
Ricks was driving a 2017 Jeep Renegade east in the westbound lanes of I-40 when she collided head-on with a 2003 Hyundai heading west, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report.
The impact sent the Jeep into a ditch, where it overturned. The Hyundai went into the center median and burst into flames while its four occupants were trapped inside, according to the OHP.
The driver and three passengers in the Hyundai died from injuries suffered in the crash: Laura Jones, Carol Jones, Lilly Homant (age 8), and Zachary Homant (age 12).
Witnesses had called 911 to report the Jeep was speeding and traveling the wrong way on I-40 before the collision.
A witness at the scene detected an odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath, troopers said.
Defendant Ricks, who had a prolonged stay at a hospital after the deadly crash, was booked into the Canadian County Jail at 1:43 p.m. Nov. 17.
A preliminary hearing conference is set Jan. 4 before Canadian County Special Judge Khristan K. Strubhar.
Ricks faces not less than 40 years if convicted of second-degree murder and not less than 16 years if convicted of first-degree manslaughter