An Ohio woman is accused of intentionally drove her car into oncoming traffic, striking a UPS semi-truck and killing one of her children in January.
Kia Ferguson was arrested last week and has been charged with multiple counts of felony murder and attempted murder charges, as well as felonious assault, and endangering children in connection to the fatal wreck, according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
Shortly after midnight on Jan. 25, police responded to a car crash on I-90. The collision occurred near Mentor, Ohio, about 25 miles northeast of Cleveland.
Police discovered that the 38-year-old mother’s 2008 Chevrolet hatchback sedan had been struck by a UPS semi-truck, a police press release stated. Ferguson’s 10-year-old daughter, Ji Ferguson, was pronounced dead on the scene. Her brother Kobe, 6, survived and was transported to a Cleveland hospital.
But it took nearly a year for authorities to bring charges against Ferguson. She was indicted by a Lake County Grand Jury on Sept. 26, and was arrested a week later. Ferguson has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against her.
“We conducted a thorough investigation over a nine-month period and it became clear that this was an intentional act,” Mentor Police Chief Ken Gunsch told Oxygen.com.
Gunsch didn't specify why charges took so long to be handed down or what evidence led investigators to believe Ferguson had intentionally careened into the semi-truck.
“In my experience, we haven’t had a case like this at all,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking that the kids are involved in something tragic like that. It’s horrible.”
Gunsch declined to comment further as the case is ongoing.
The 56-year-old driver of the semi-truck wasn’t injured in the crash.
Katharine Wilson, a 28-year-old insurance agent who grew up in Mentor, allegedly saw Ferguson wandering outside around her vehicle at the side of the road, moments before the crash occurred.
Wilson said she was traveling home from a wake and happened to glance over at the side of the road and saw the silhouette of a vehicle sitting idle in the shadows. It was a dark stretch of highway with no road lights. Months earlier, she said, a man had jumped into oncoming traffic and committed suicide on the same stretch of highway. The site left her with a “pit” in her stomach. So she dialed the police.
“All I could see [was] this shadow of a car standing there and a figure standing outside a car,” Wilson told Oxygen.com. “I thought it was strange. None of the lights of the car were on and it was January, so it was weird to be just standing outside. It made me uncomfortable.”
She later found out that a “couple minutes” afterwards, Ferguson's car struck oncoming traffic. When Wilson learned of the crash on the news, she didn’t immediately make the connection that the person she saw was possibly Ferguson until police contacted her. Wilson is currently listed as a police witness in the case, according to an incident report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Wilson said the news was “heartbreaking” and lamented that her phone call to emergency dispatchers may have been too late.
“It wasn’t fast enough,” she said. “[Ferguson] was still able to do what she did.”
Ferguson was released after posting 10 percent of her $50,0000 surety bond, according to online court records. She’s due in Lake County court for a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. Ferguson is prohibited from driving or having unsupervised contact with her surviving child, and has been ordered to submit to GPS monitoring while her case is pending. Judge Patrick J. Condon will preside over Ferguson’s trial.
Her criminal defense attorney, Carlos Johnson, didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
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