WSAZ - HomePage - Local News, Severe Weather and Breaking News Coverage for West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky

UPDATE: Survivor of Fatal DUI Crash Pushes for Stiffer Penalties

By: Rahel Solomon, Anna Baxter, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Rahel Solomon, Anna Baxter, WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 7/29/13 @ 6:15 p.m.
LOONEYVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The survivor of a fatal alcohol-involved car crash in Roane County is pushing for stiffer penalties for DUI violations.

Ralph Cottrell and his girlfriend Kelly Casto were asleep in a bedroom at Cottrell’s brother’s home when a car plowed through the room about 2:30 a.m. July 18.

“I screamed, 'Baby answer me' then I screamed her name, but there was no response,” Cottrell said, referring to his attempts to awaken Casto.

Deputies tell WSAZ.com the driver of the car was Chaz Simmons. Police say Simmons admitted to having as many as eight beers before he got behind the wheel the night of the accident.

According to court records, Simmons was also charged with a DUI in Washington County, Pa.

Casto died on the scene of the car wreck.

“We had plans of getting married and moving in together,” Cottrell said about his and Casto’s relationship.

Doctors tell Cottrell he will be in a wheelchair for months but they expect him to make a full recovery.

Cottrell and Casto’s mother, Patty, are calling on West Virginia lawmakers to consider stiffer penalties for DUI-related accidents.

Cottrell said the two are hoping to spare other families from the pain they’re experiencing, saying “one life to a DUI is too many.”

Simmons is charged with DUI causing death and DUI causing injury. He waived his preliminary hearing set for July 22. His case will now go to the grand jury.



UPDATE 7/18/13 @ 6:15 p.m.
LOONEYVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A woman is dead and a man is fighting for his life after a devastating crash police say did not have to happen.

It happened about three Thursday morning along Clay Road in Roane County.

Deputies say Chaz Simmons crashed his truck into the bedroom of a house, killing Kelly Casto and seriously hurting Ralph Cottrell.

Now, Simmons is under arrest, accused of driving drunk… and it's not the first time.

He already had a DUI case from May that is still pending in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Investigators say he had a long history of other alcohol related charges. Things like Public Intoxication and Underage Consumption.

But it was a night of partying in Calhoun County that led to the nightmare Larry Cottrell is living.

“This is the awfulest thing I've ever seen,” Larry Cottrell said.

His brother Ralph is in the hospital fighting for his life. Ralph's girlfriend, Kelly, is dead. She was killed instantly after a man who said he'd been drinking crashed his truck right into the bedroom they were staying in at Larry's house.

“My brother was pinned,” Larry Cottrell said. “Me and my mom and two or three other ones was working to get him out from under there and I'd already seen that Kelly was dead.

Simmons was on his way home to Spencer when he ran off route 36 near Looneyville and into the house. Larry knew he'd been drinking… Something Simmons later admitted to deputies.

“You could smell it all over him,” Larry Cottrell said.

“He stated that he had drank between seven and eight beers, Sgt. Bo Williams with the Roane County Sheriff’s Department said. “Didn't really have much recollection of the wreck. He just remembers EMS getting him out of the vehicle and basically waking up at Roane General.”

He's now facing two felony charges for drinking and driving, and could spend up to 11 years in prison for the crash.



UPDATE 7/18/13 @ 9:15 a.m.
ROANE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man from Spencer has been charged in a deadly accident after investigators say he was driving drunk when his truck hit a home where two people were sleeping.

The crash happened about 3 a.m. Thursday in the 71-hundred block of Clay Road, also known as Route 36, near Looneyville. That's in Roane County.

Chaz Simmons, of Spencer, was charged with DUI Causing Death and DUI Causing Injury just a few hours after the crash. He was arraigned on the charges about 9 a.m. in Roane County Magistrate Court.

Investigators tell WSAZ.com Simmons was headed west on Route 36 when he lost control, veered off the road and slammed into the home.

Sergeant Bo Williams tells WSAZ.com Simmons told deputies he had seven to eight beers at a party in Calhoun County and he doesn't remember anything until EMS got him out of the truck.

One of the victims' family members says William "Ralph" Cottrell, who was also sleeping inside the home was hurt and taken to the hospital. Ralph was flown to CAMC General with serious injuries. He's currently listed under evaluation.

Cottrell, Ralph's brother lives nearby and tells WSAZ.com that Kelly Casto was the person killed.

Sergeant Williams says this isn't the first time Simmons has been charged with DUI. According to court records, Simmons has one prior DUI charge in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

According to a court spokesperson in Washington County, Simmons' blood alcohol level was .158 when he was pulled over during a traffic stop for driving without his lights on.

This traffic stop happened at 3:13 a.m. on May 9. Simmons is scheduled to be in court on July 31 at 2 p.m. in Pennsylvania to answer this charge.

Simmons also has a number of underage consumption and public intoxication charges in West Virginia, according to Sergeant Williams.

Deputies have not determined Simmons' blood alcohol level at the time of Thursday's crash.

Cottrell says Ralph was dating Kelly. They are both in their 30s, according to Cottrell.

Cottrell says he heard a bang and ran outside and saw the truck. Cottrell says Simmons looked like he was trying to get away so he told him to turn off the truck and wait for police.

Cottrell says he smelled a strong smell of alcohol on Simmons.

Cottrell says Ralph and Kelly were known as two people who would do anything for anyone.

During Simmons' arraignment, the magistrate set his bond at $100,000 cash, property or through bail bondsman.

Before Simmons' arraignment, his grandfather and mother prayed with him.

Homer Hensley, Simmons' grandfather tells WSAZ.com this is a tragedy for two families.

Simmons also suffered minor injuries during the crush, including scrapes to his arms. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 7/18/13 @ 7 a.m.
ROANE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A woman who was in bed asleep was killed when a pick-up truck crashed through her bedroom.

It happened about 3 a.m. Thursday in the 71-hundred block of Clay Road, also known as Route 36, near Looneyville. That's in Roane County.

Investigators tell WSAZ.com the truck was heading west on Route 36 when it veered off the road and slammed into the home.

A family member says William "Ralph" Cottrell, who was also sleeping inside the home was taken to the hospital. The extent of his injuries are not being released at this time.

Cottrell, Ralph's brother lives nearby and tells WSAZ.com that Kelly Casto was the person killed.

Cottrell says Ralph was dating Kelly. They are both in their 30s, according to Cottrell.

Cottrell says he heard a bang and ran outside and saw the truck. Cottrell says the driver looked like he was trying to get away so he told him to turn off the truck and wait for police.

Investigators say alcohol may be to blame for the crash.

Cottrell says he smelled a strong smell of alcohol on the driver.

Deputies are in the process of getting a search warrant for the truck and the driver's house.

No charges have been filed in the incident.

Cottrell says Ralph and Kelly were known as two people who would do anything for anyone.

We have a crew at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
ROANE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Roane County Emergency Dispatchers tell WSAZ.com one person is dead and two others have been taken to the hospital after a car crashed into a house.

It happened about 3 this morning in the 7100 block of Clay Rd. near Newton. Investigators say alcohol may have been a factor in the wreck.

We have a crew headed to the scene.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WSAZ NewsChannel 3 645 Fifth Avenue Huntington, WV 25701 304-697-4780 WSAZ Charleston 111 Columbia Avenue Charleston, WV 25302 304-344-3521
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 215951901 - wsaz.com/a?a=215951901