Kids on way to kindergarten graduation are thrown from car during crash, Florida cops say

Two kids were seriously injured after they were ejected from a car in a crash while on their way to a kindergarten graduation, according to a Florida sheriff’s office.

The driver, 32-year-old Ashauntie Cox, was charged with multiple counts, including driving under the influence, according to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Cox was driving a Kia on a highway near Frostproof with two children, ages 5 and 8, and a 27-year-old passenger on May 19, the release says.

Cox hit a Chevy Silverado pickup truck before speeding away at around 8 p.m., according to the release.

Cox continued to speed “recklessly” on the highway “weaving in and out of slower moving traffic” until she rear-ended a Honda CRV while trying to pass between it and another vehicle, the release says.

The driver of the CRV was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to the sheriff’s office.

After the collision, Cox’s vehicle flipped “several times” and the 5-year-old and 8-year-old were ejected, the release says. Both had “significant injuries” and were taken to a hospital where they were in critical condition, according to the sheriff’s office.

The 27-year-old passenger suffered serious injuries to her spinal cord, hip and back, the sheriff’s office said. She was in stable condition at a hospital.

Deputies who responded to the scene smelled marijuana and found a bottle of tequila in Cox’s car, the release says.

Cox told investigators that she had been driving from Orlando to Avon Park, about 75 miles south, to attend the 5-year-old’s kindergarten graduation, according to the sheriff’s office. She told deputies that she’d smoked marijuana earlier in the day and had four shots of tequila, the release says.

She was taken to a hospital and was not able to complete a field sobriety test, according to an arrest affidavit.

A breath test taken about seven hours after the crash showed her blood alcohol content to be 0.039 and 0.04, the affidavit says. The legal driving limit in Florida is 0.08 blood alcohol content.

Due to factors observed at the scene of the crash as well as another test conducted at the hospital used to measure impairment “there was probable cause to believe (Cox) was impaired by drugs and /or alcohol at the time of the crash and could not safely operate a motor vehicle,” the affidavit says.

A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said she could not release information about the nature of Cox’s relationship to the children.

Cox has been charged with, according to the sheriff’s office:

  • three counts of driving under the influence with serious bodily injury

  • two counts of negligent child abuse with great bodily harm

  • reckless driving

  • driving under the influence with property damage

  • driving under the influence

“This woman had no regard for anyone’s life when she got behind the wheel intoxicated and then drove recklessly down a major highway,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “But what’s worse is the blatant disregard she had for the lives of the innocent children in her car.”

Cox is being held on a $9,500 bond, according to the sheriff’s office.

Frostproof is about 75 miles south of Orlando.

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