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Decision on charges may be weeks away in fatal wreck

Monday, March 23, 2009 | 4:32 p.m. CDT; updated 10:56 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 23, 2009

ST. LOUIS — A decision could be weeks away on whether charges will be filed against a suburban St. Louis police officer involved in a wreck that killed four people, authorities said Monday.

The accident happened at 1:45 a.m. Saturday. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Sunset Hills officer Christine L. Miller's Mitsubishi was in the wrong lane when it struck a 1999 Honda. She was off duty at the time.

Miller, 41, is still in critical condition. The driver of the Honda, Nitesh Adusumilli, 27, of Ballwin, is in serious condition. All four victims were passengers in his car.

Highway Patrol investigators believe alcohol was involved, but toxicology results for Miller and investigation reports from the crash are expected to take three to six weeks, Sgt. Al Nothum said.

"We're going to wait for all the reports to get in," Nothum said. "There's no reason to rush this through. We're going to make sure everything is correct."

Nothum said the patrol report will not include a recommendation for or against criminal charges. "We are going to let the PA (prosecuting attorney) decide what charges are applicable, if any," he said.

Don Schneider, a spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecutor's office, would say only that the investigation is continuing and no charges have been filed.

The victims, all from India, died instantly. Three were graduate students in technology at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston: Anusha Anumolu, 23; Anita Lakshmi, 23; and Prya Muppvarapu, 22. The fourth victim, 25-year-old Satya Chinta, was from Aurora, Ill.

Eastern Illinois University spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said the university has about 60 students from India and news of the deaths hit hard Monday as students returned from spring break.

"There's definitely sadness, shock," Woodard said. "To have three close friends killed like that, you can imagine how hard it is."

An on-campus memorial could be held later, and Woodard said several students plan to take a bus to St. Louis for a memorial service before the bodies are flown back to India. A date for that service has not been set.

Miller lives in Kirkwood and is a 12-year veteran of the Sunset Hills department in St. Louis County. At a news conference Saturday, Sunset Hills police Chief William LaGrand said drinking and driving would be out of character for her.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that Miller's 22-year-old son, Brian C. Miller, is currently facing charges of involuntary manslaughter for a July 27 accident in Laclede County. Authorities say Brian Miller was intoxicated when he crashed his car into a tree, killing a passenger.

 


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