Woman, unborn child die in suspected DUI-related crash

Debra K. Estep (FPD)

A woman and her unborn child are dead after police said another car going the wrong way hit the car she was a passenger in, head-on. It happened Sunday night, August 5, 2018, shortly before 10:00 p.m. on the Foley Beach Express. Police at the scene reported smelling alcohol on the driver going the wrong way, but that part of the investigation is still ongoing.

Police are still interviewing witnesses and getting warrants signed to search property and get toxicology reports on the accident suspect and that could take some time. As of now, no charges have been filed. Police identified the victim who died as 20-year-old, Josie Jones of Orange Beach. Police said she was about 29 weeks along in her pregnancy.

“It’s very emotional and some police officers take it really hard. It’s difficult…and witnesses too, not to mention family members,” Foley Police Lt. Tony Fuqua said of the accident. “I understand that the officers on the scene last night had a difficult time dealing with it.”

Colored marks in the roadway along the Foley Beach Express were the only indications left behind Monday of the tragedy that happened. Police said all people involved are local. The suspect in the crash is 57-year-old Debra Estep of Elberta. Police said she was traveling westbound on County Road 20 and made a left turn onto the Foley Beach Express going southbound in the northbound lanes. Police said there were witnesses to this who reported the crash right after it happened.

“We’ve got to determine the extent of her Fuqua said. “Some of the officers on the scene did smell alcohol.” alcohol intake if there was any,”

Estep had to be extracted from her vehicle and was flown to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola as was Jones. Jones and her unborn child did not survive. The driver of that vehicle Jones was in had minor injuries. Estep was released from the hospital Monday morning and investigators have since interviewed her. They are now waiting for more of the investigation to unfold before determining if any charges will be filed.

“We have to deal with the time frame of getting the blood work results from Florida since it’s not Alabama. Usually, we have to have a search warrant or the person give us consent to get it. Obviously, we didn’t get the consent because the person’s already been released from the hospital so we’ll have to do a search warrant to get those results and sometimes it will take a little while to get them back,” Fuqua explained.

Based on what investigators know now if charges are warranted, police said they could range anywhere from reckless or careless driving on the lower end to vehicular homicide on the upper end. Depending on what is found in Estep’s toxicology report, a DUI charge could also be added.

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