By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – The driver charged in a “wrong-way” crash last fall that killed four people now faces a wrongful death suit in Canadian County District Court.
Moore’s Ashley Louise Ricks, 34, is housed at the Canadian County Jail after being charged Dec. 3, 2020 in Canadian County District Court with four counts of second-degree murder, or in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter.
Ricks faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted of felony charges for causing a deadly crash Oct. 17, 2020 on Interstate 40 near mile marker 120. A district court arraignment hearing is set Tuesday, April 20.
Prosecutors allege Ricks was driving under the influence of alcohol in the wrong direction “at excessive speeds” when she caused a head-on collision with another vehicle. That other vehicle’s four occupants – two of them children – died in the crash.
Ricks has been named as defendant in a lawsuit filed April 8 in Canadian County District Court.
Sam Homant, the father of the two children killed in the I-40 traffic collision, is plaintiff in the civil suit claiming wrongful death and loss of parental consortium.
Homant’s children – ages 8 and 12 – “were killed as a direct result” of Ricks’ negligence, according to the suit.
The victims’ father has “suffered the loss of companionship with his minor children” and “emotional trauma and pain” because of their deaths, the petition reads.
The defendant’s actions were “grossly negligent” and “without due regard” for the rights of others, according to the lawsuit.
Homant, represented by attorney Bryan G. Garrett, is seeking punitive damages.
HOW IT HAPPENED
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 sustained in the collision: 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 fatal crash.
At a March 31st preliminary hearing, Canadian County Special Judge Khristan Strubhar found probable cause that Ricks caused the crimes that prosecutors allege in the criminal case. Judge Strubhar bound the defendant over for trial.
Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse is due to preside at the April 20th district court arraignment.
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.