Emma Epperly / The Spokesperson-Review
A 57-year-old woman was charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence last week in a July golf cart crash that killed a Spokane police officer.
Julie Nikkola was charged with manslaughter and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence on Wednesday, court documents show.
Nikkola, Spokane police officers Jeffery Barrington and Jeffery McCollough along with McCollough, his wife Trina McCollough and passenger James Allen were in a golf cart around 9:30 p.m. on July 15 when they crashed near West Lakeshore Road and Luby Bay Road in Bonner County, according to court documents.
Bonner County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene shortly after. Jeffery McCollough, 52, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other passengers were taken to hospital with various non-life-threatening injuries, according to court documents.
Nikkola told investigators she was driving when they started going too fast and the golf cart began to wobble, according to reports from deputies. One of the passengers leaned over and shook the cart’s wheel, causing it to tip over, Nikkola told deputies.
Another couple were driving behind the golf cart and told investigators Nikkola was the driver with the McCulloughs in the back of the vehicle. Witnesses told police they saw the cart begin to wobble just before the crash.
Deputies turned the investigation over to Idaho State Police, who met with the passengers and Nikkola at Newport Hospital.
Nikkola admitted to drinking two alcoholic beverages before driving, according to court documents. The soldier could smell alcohol on Nikkola’s breath, he wrote. More than three hours after the crash, Nikkola’s breath tests showed blood alcohol levels of 0.078 and 0.077. The blood test showed his blood alcohol level was 0.091 about three hours after the accident, according to court documents.
Investigators wrote that they believe Nikkola’s blood alcohol level was higher at the time of the accident. The legal limit in Idaho is 0.08.
The Idaho State Patrol did not immediately respond to request for comment on Monday. The ISP refused to release any information about the crash for months beyond a vague press release.
McCollough’s death came as a shock to the police department, according to a statement released at the time of the crash.
“The loss is understandably shocking and heartbreaking for Jeff’s friends and family, and for the SPD as a whole,” the statement read. “Jeff was a beloved colleague and a dedicated public servant.”
Barrington returned to duty as a Spokane police officer.
If convicted, Nikkola faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Nikkola was not in jail Monday afternoon.