After a swarm of rumors and nine months of uncertainty, charges have been filed against two 2006 Highland High School seniors involved in the May 16 car wreck that resulted in the death of 77-year-old Eugenie Rubel of Hardy.
Jan. 18 the Highland Police Department was directed by District Prosecutor Joe Grider to charge Chase Renihan of Ash Flat and Joseph Herum of rural Hardy, both 18, with driving under the influence after blood samples taken at the scene of the accident tested positive for alcohol, according to Highland Officer Jeremy Stevens, who worked the wreck in May.
The collision occurred at approximately 2:20 a.m. at the intersection of Tekakwitha Drive and Highway 62/412 near St. Michael's Catholic Church.
Stevens said Rubel was driving a 1995 Honda Civic when she turned left off Tekakwitha Drive into the path of Renihan's westbound 1995 Nissan Maxima.
As Rubel turned into oncoming traffic, Renihan swerved into the inside lane in an attempt to avoid colliding with the vehicle; however, Rubel's vehicle struck the passenger side of his car, Stevens said. The impact of Rubel's vehicle spun Renihan's car, causing it to slide backwards into the outside lane of traffic before it came to rest facing eastbound, he said.
As Renihan's vehicle came to a rest, Herum approached the scene in a westbound 1993 Ford F150 pickup.
In an attempt to stop, Herum skidded about 27 feet before impacting the driver's side of Rubel's car, Stevens said. The collision caused Rubel's vehicle to slide across the highway and into a ditch before coming to rest facing eastbound, he said.
Although the initial cause of the collision was Rubel's failure to yield, charges were filed because of the boys' breathalyzer test results, according to Stevens.
In interviews after the wreck, the boys said they had each consumed four beers earlier in the evening, Stevens said. To be charged with driving under the influence, minors must register .02 or above, he said. Renihan registered a .055, Herum a .069.
Now that they have been charged with DUI, Stevens said Renihan and Herum will likely lose their licenses and be required to pay fines.
The wreck occurred just four days after Renihan and Herum officially concluded their time as Highland students at their May 12 high school graduation ceremony.