Crime & Courts

‘I can’t go back to jail, I have dope on me,’ driver says moments before deadly crash

The woman who crashed into a family’s car while fleeing from police in a stolen SUV on May 5 told her passenger “I can’t go back to jail, I have dope on me” when she noticed a Wichita police officer driving behind her, according to an arrest affidavit released Friday by Sedgwick County District Court.

She also smoked meth right before driving, the affidavit says.

Moments later, 24-year-old Mia Collins sped south on Broadway until she slammed into a Toyota Camry at the Douglas intersection in downtown Wichita. The collision killed 70-year-old Maria Wood and her 12-year-old granddaughter Rosemary McElroy, a Robinson Middle School student. Wood’s daughter, well-known local musician Jenny Wood, and a 65-year-old man in a third vehicle were hurt.

At the time of the crash, Collins was on probation for a 2018 theft. She is now facing two counts of first-degree murder and seven other charges. Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay has previously said that methamphetamine also played a role in the collision.

On the way to the hospital, Collins apologized “for killing them,” the affidavit says.

Collins’ passenger, Christopher English, told a detective who interviewed him in the hospital after the collision that Collins fled from the officer because she didn’t want to get caught with drugs and risk more jail time. Court records show she’d just spent three days in jail as punishment for violating her probation. A Wichita police officer started following the 2001 BMW X5 that she was driving after a license plate reader on his patrol car alerted him that the SUV had been reported stolen at 1:51 p.m.

English told the detective that Collins pulled the SUV into a parking lot and thought she was going to park.

But when the police officer flipped on his patrol lights, she pulled out onto Broadway and sped away instead. The officer followed her but was tailing behind by several blocks.

“He (English) described her driving as reckless and said he was scared by the speed,” according to the detective’s recounting of the interview in the affidavit. English told Collins to stop repeatedly, according to the affidavit, and warned her about the other car approaching the Douglas-Broadway intersection before the impact.

After the crash, Collins shouted “run” and got out of the BMW, the affidavit says English told the detective.

Collins tried to run away but couldn’t because of a leg injury, the affidavit says.

In her police interview, Collins blamed English for the flight, saying he’d “told her to go” when the officer flipped on his lights and “she was scared” of him so she complied, the affidavit says.

An officer who rode in an ambulance with Collins to the hospital noted that she was “speaking very fast and her speech was slurred,” the affidavit says. Her eyes looked glazed over, she “appeared to be having trouble focusing and tracking” and she acted “antsy” — behaviors the officer thought were consistent with methamphetamine use.

During the trip, the officer “heard Collins say she’s sorry ‘for killing them,’” the affidavit says.

Later, Collins told hospital staff that she hadn’t ingested methamphetamine in six weeks. But English told staff that she smoked meth right before driving the SUV on May 5.

The results of a blood test were pending at the time the affidavit was written.

In addition to saying English told her to flee, Collins in her police interview denied using alcohol or drugs and said she didn’t know the BMW had been reported stolen but admitted to driving faster than the speed limit.

But authorities who got a warrant to search the BMW found paperwork with Collins’ name on it inside of a wallet and a clear plastic bag containing “a crystal substance” that tested positive for meth in a purse, the affidavit says.

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.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the date of the crash.

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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.