A 24-year-old woman has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and is being sought on an arrest warrant stemming from a fatal May 1989 car-train accident north of Lawrence, authorities announced Monday.
Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said the warrant was issued June 29 by District Judge Mike Malone for the woman, Edwina Rae Sandoval.
The vehicular homicide charge contained in the warrant alleges that Sandoval was under the influence of drugs or alcohol on May 11, 1989, when the car she was driving struck another car and knocked it into the path of a train.
Lester Battise, 25, Livingston, Tex., died in the accident. Battise was a passenger in a car driven by Dawna Paul, 20, Cherokee, N.C., who suffered critical injuries along with another passenger, Ricky Cooper, 24, Anadarko, Okla. Paul and Cooper were hospitalized for several weeks after the accident.
THE ACCIDENT occurred on a gravel road which runs west from U.S. Highway 24-59 at the north edge of Lawrence, about 30 yards from the entrance to Riverfront Park.
A sheriff's spokesman said officers have been unable to locate Sandoval but believe she may be living in New Mexico or Alaska.
The warrant was signed more than 13 months after the accident occurred. Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jim Flory attributed the time lag to a lengthy investigation in which sheriff's officers worked with Union Pacific Railroad detectives to determine the sequence of events that led to the fatal collision. Flory said he and his staff also spent a great deal of time reviewing legal issues related to the fatality.
An announcement similar to Monday's was made June 26, when authorities revealed they were searching for a 24-year-old man on first-degree murder charges stemming from the death of Tamara C. Baker, 25, Lawrence. Lawrence police, acting on a warrant issued May 25, made two trips to New York City in search of the man, Tyrone Walker, but were unable to locate him.
MEANWHILE, other local death investigations continue. The following is a list of deaths that have not been fully explained:
The body of John Sandoval, 19, a Haskell Indian Junior College student, was found April 12 in the Kansas River. He was last seen alive at a party on Nov. 5, 1988, in the 1600 block of Kentucky Street. Officials ruled that Sandoval drowned Nov. 5, 1988. Officials said it is not clear whether he is related to Edwina Sandoval.
The body of Nilsa Sanchez, 37, Lawrence, was found Sept. 1, 1989, in a culvert south of Stull. She was last seen alive Aug. 24 walkng near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Douglas County Road 13.
Cecil Dawes Jr., 21, Lawrence, drowned in the Kansas River. Dawes' body was found Oct. 24, 1989, and he was last seen alive Oct. 15.
Harry J. Oliver, 72, Horton, was killed Dec. 3, 1989, in a hit-and-run, car-pedestrian accident in the 1300 block of Massachusetts.
Christopher Bread, 19, Lawrence, died March 2 just east of Lawrence on East 15th Street. Officials believe Bread died when he was struck by a vehicle that left the scene. He suffered a skull fracture.
Authorities say they have exhausted their leads in most of the investigations and now are hoping that local residents can provide additional information.