Monica Chavez Found Not Guilty in Car Crash That Killed Family of 5, Caused by Possible Seizure

Prosecutors argued Monica Chavez shouldn't have been behind the wheel.

ByABC News
June 16, 2012, 8:04 AM

June 16, 2012— -- A Colorado woman who suffered an apparent seizure right before getting into a car crash that killed a family of five was found not guilty of negligent homicide.

Monica Chavez was driving more than 100 miles per hour with her two kids in Feb. 2011.

She apparently had a seizure when she entered an intersection, went airborne and smashed into two cars on a Thornton, Colo., street. Randy and Crystaldawn Stollsteimer, and their kids, Sebastian, Darrian, and Cyrus, died instantly.

"It's wrong. This verdict is wrong," said Jessica Johnson, a relative of the Stollsteimer family on Friday.

Only six states require a doctor to tell the department of motor vehicles when a patient is diagnosed with seizures. The Stollsteimer family, outraged by the verdict, hopes to make Colorado the seventh.

Prosecutors argued Chavez should not have been behind the wheel because of another seizure-like episode she had in 2006. After the 2006 episode, doctors told Chavez in the emergency room that she should not drive until cleared by a neurologist, prosecutor Tiffany Score said.

She ignored the order, according to prosecutors, but defense attorneys counter that Chavez saw her own doctor who was not convinced she'd had a seizure.

"No doctor will tell you that she should not have been driving five years after something that they never called a seizure," defense attorney Megan Downing said. "She was told she was fine and that's why she was in the car that day."

Chavez suffered another seizure at a McDonalds in August 2010, according to prosecutors.

Chavez's husband, George, said the 2010 incident didn't raise a red flag because he thought she just blacked out from suffering a heat stroke, according to ABC News station KMGH-TV in Denver.

Chavez was charged with five counts of negligent homicide and two counts of child abuse for putting her own children in danger.

The Chavez case received renewed national attention after Commerce Secretary John Bryson was charged with a felony hit-and-run last weekend after he says he suffered a seizure while driving. Bryson was found blacked out after hitting two cars. No one was injured.