Poplar Bluff woman pleads guilty to causing deaths in crash

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DONIPHAN, Mo. -- A Poplar Bluff, Mo., woman pleaded guilty Friday to causing the deaths of her passengers who drowned after the vehicle she was driving ran off the road into the Black River.

Christine Aldridge, 25, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Jason Carrington and Josh Phelps "by speeding, running through a stop sign and off the road at Saxon and Ashcroft streets in Poplar Bluff and into Black River," while under the influence of alcohol, according to court documents. She was set to stand trial on the charge Feb. 21 in Ripley County.

With the plea, Aldridge could be sentenced to 14 years in prison, said Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour.

Presiding Circuit Judge Michael Pritchett ordered a sentencing assessment report and set sentencing for 1 p.m. March 18.

Officers responded April 7 to a call of a submerged vehicle in the Black River. An SUV reportedly had landed in the water on its roof.

A witness reported two people, later identified as Phelps, 25, of Poplar Bluff and Carrington, 29, of Malden, Mo., were trapped inside and the vehicle had been underwater for about 20 minutes.

Aldridge reportedly was found along the river bank, having escaped unharmed through an open driver's side window of her 2001 Jeep Cherokee.

Aldridge had her blood drawn to determine her blood-alcohol content, and she gave a statement to police saying she had been drinking for several hours that night.

Phelps was found in the vehicle's front seat, and Carrington was in the back seat. The only open window was the driver's side window.

Evidence at the scene indicated the men did not die as a result of injuries from the crash.

Pertinent address:

Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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