Crime & Courts

Driver who crashed into family’s car, killing two, charged with murder, other crimes

A woman who crashed into a family’s car in downtown Wichita last weekend, killing two people inside, has been charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder and seven other crimes.

Police say 24-year-old Mia Collins slammed into the Toyota Camry at the Broadway-Douglas intersection while she was fleeing from an officer following her on May 5. She was driving a stolen 2001 BMW X5 SUV at the time, Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay said earlier this week. Police records show the BMW was one of two vehicles paid for with a $7,500 forged check. The Wichita woman who sold the cars reported the alleged forgery on April 29.

Maria Wood, 70, and 12-year-old Rosemary McElroy, a Robinson Middle School student, died from their injuries. Wood’s daughter, well-known local musician Jenny Wood, was in the Camry with them but survived. She’s been hospitalized since Sunday but is reportedly improving.

Another driver, Alfred Angel, whose car collided with the Camry after the initial impact was also hurt. The 65-year-old was released from the hospital earlier this week.

Collins and her passenger, 38-year-old Christopher English, also received injuries. Authorities arrested and jailed Collins after she was well enough to leave the hospital.

Collins, who is on probation in a gun theft case, is facing nine charges in connection with the fatal crash, a judge announced Friday afternoon as Collins made her first appearance in court. In addition to two counts of murder, she’s also charged with alternative counts of fleeing or attempting to elude police, three counts of aggravated battery, one count of methamphetamine possession and one count of driving with a suspended or canceled license.

The murder charges allege Collins killed Maria Woods and Rosemary McElroy “in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from an inherently dangerous felony” crime — fleeing to attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.

All but the count involving her license are felonies.

Collins appeared in court Friday via a video feed from a room in the Sedgwick County Jail linked to a television in Judge Rodger Woods’ courtroom. She was in a wheelchair and grimaced when the judge read the first charge — murder — but it wasn’t clear whether pain or something else caused that reaction.

After the judge finished going over the charges and ordered her to stay away from witnesses in the case, Collins asked: “OK, so I will be getting an attorney?”

The judge said yes, a lawyer would be appointed by the court to defend her. She had no other questions.

On her application for a public defender, she wrote that she’s unemployed and lives with her mother and father. She listed an El Dorado address.

Collins is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond. Her next court date is May 23.

Ramsay, the police chief, said earlier this week that the department planned to ask prosecutors to charge English, too. But that hadn’t happened as of Friday.

Prison and court records show English is on parole and has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction for fleeing or eluding law enforcement, stretching back to childhood.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.