Mother charged in U.S. 35 crash that killed 7-year-old daughter

LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. - A woman was charged with operating while intoxicated in connection with a crash that killed her seven-year-old daughter in February, according to the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.

Probable cause was found to charge 42-year-old Walkerton resident Dawn Coleman with the following:

  • Three counts of operating while intoxicated, a level 4 felony
  • One count of operating while intoxicated, a level 5 felony
  • One count of operating while intoxicated, a level 6 felony

At 12:04 a.m. on February 26, deputies were called to the area of U.S. 35 and Schultz Road for a single-vehicle crash.

Deputies found the crash site in the 3000-north block of U.S. 35. 

According to the investigation, a tan 2000 Chevrolet, driven by Coleman, was traveling south on U.S. 35 when it left the road and struck a tree.

The Chevrolet then hit a second tree before stopping in a wooded area.

Coleman was taken to the hospital for a head injury.

A front-seat passenger was airlifted to the hospital for serious injuries to his lower body.

Two juveniles in the vehicle were also taken to the hospital.

An eight-year-old boy, who was sitting behind the front passenger seat, was treated for minor injuries and was responsive when law enforcement got to the scene.

A seven-year-old girl, who was sitting behind Coleman and was unresponsive to law enforcement, was taken to the hospital where she later died. Her cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma as a result of the crash, according to reports. 

The children were identified by law enforcement as the son and daughter of Coleman and the front seat passenger. 

On March 8, investigators met with Coleman, who said she thought she fell asleep at the wheel while driving the family back to their home from a relative's house, reports said. 

Coleman allegedly told investigators she drank alcohol before leaving the relative's home, specifying she had two glasses of wine in large, plastic cups. 

She was able to describe the events of February 26 and the route she drove from the relative's house to the point of the crash. 

Her blood alcohol concentrate was found to be 0.172 grams per 100 milliliters, deputies reported. 

A summons was issued for Coleman to appear in court for an initial hearing on March 31.

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