A St. Charles man was charged April 23 with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a Missouri car accident that took the life of an unborn baby in mid March.
Paul Joseph Murphy, age 52, was allegedly under the influence of a drug typically prescribed for anxiety when his erratic driving caused a multiple-car accident in St. Charles.
Murphy was driving a black Hyundai sedan eastbound on West Clay Road around noon on March 16 when the accident happened. For an unknown reason, Murphy crossed the centerline and crashed head-on into a westbound red Toyota sedan. The sedan was then hit from behind by a Toyota SUV.
The driver of the Toyota sedan was 22-year-old Renee Ferrier of St. Charles, who was 19 weeks pregnant. Her fiancé, 24-year-old Nathan Hart of St. Charles, and their 3-year-old daughter Natalie Hart were also in the car.
All three in the sedan were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. Ferrier gave birth, but the premature baby was stillborn. Natalie suffered serious brain damage and was still in critical condition a month after the accident.
Murphy was also injured in the crash; the driver of the third vehicle was not.
A blood sample from Murphy showed traces of benzodiazepines. This family of drugs (including Xanax and Valium) is typically used to treat anxiety and insomnia but can also cause dizziness and disorientation.
St. Charles City Police believe the drugs inhibited Murphy's driving ability. Witnesses saw him failing to follow traffic signals shortly before the crash.
In addition to the first-degree involuntary manslaughter charge, Murphy also faces three counts of second-degree assault in connection with the accident. He faces up to 36 years in prison if convicted.