The woman who crashed into a crowd at Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade, killing four people and injuring dozens more, was held on $1 million bond Monday — as her father acknowledged that “she might have underlying [mental health] problems.”
Adacia Avery Chambers, 25, was held on suspicion of second-degree murder and driving under the influence after she plowed her car into spectators at the Stillwater event Saturday.
Chambers hasn’t been formally charged with the four second-degree murder counts, but a prosecutor argued that she “intentionally drove her car into a crowd.”
The prosecutor said Chambers was a “flight risk” because she faces the possibility of four life terms.
Chambers told investigators she had a history of suicide attempts and was suicidal at the time of the event, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday in Payne County District Court.
According to the affidavit, Chambers was at the wheel of a gray Hyundai Electra when witnesses saw it drive through a red light and then try to maneuver around a parade traffic barricade. Failing to evade the barricade, the driver simply drove through it, pushing it aside, police said.
The driver maintained speed and ignored bystanders’ attempts to flag her to stop, according to the affidavit. The car then struck a marked police motorcycle, sending it hurtling into the crowd, the affidavit says.
The car then drove directly into the crowd, striking several people, before veering southwest and striking more people in a crosswalk and stopping, police said.
Chambers’ lawyer, Tony Coleman, said at a news conference after her video arraignment that her father, Floyd Chambers, expressed that there’s “no way” he would be able to post her $1 million bond.
Coleman said that he met with Chambers before her arraignment and that “she was a little bit more withdrawn” than when he first interviewed her, solidifying his suspicion that she might be suffering from a mental illness.
In an interview on NBC’s TODAY, Coleman said Chambers had “no real response whatsoever” when he told her Saturday night that four people had died. Her reaction “led me to be concerned about her capacity, her competency at this time,” he said.
Chambers’ father, Floyd Chambers told reporters before the arraignment that his daughter had been hospitalized for mental issues for two weeks around 2013 and again later and that “she might have underlying problems that I wasn’t fully aware of.”
But he and others close to Chambers said they are in shock that she was behind the horrific incident, which killed a 2-year-old along with three adults.
“Adacia is a kind, loving, caring person, and she wouldn’t have done this purposefully,” Floyd Chambers said.
Chambers said he can’t imagine that drugs or alcohol were involved.
“I’m not going to believe that until they show me proof,” he said. Chambers’ toxicology results are pending, Stillwater police said.
“I know the little girl I raised wouldn’t have done something like this” intentionally, Chambers said. “I raised my kids to be Christian people and to keep family and God close to their heart.”
Lynda Branstetter, Chambers’ aunt, said: “This is not her character.”
“She’s one that’ll give you big hug, and she’s one that if you’re down she’ll make you smile. That’s my Adacia,” Branstetter said. “We don’t know what happened.”
Chamber’s live-in boyfriend, Jesse Gaylord, was also perplexed.
“For her to purposefully go and do something like that would just not be possible,” he said. “She’s one of the kindest, [most] soft-spoken people you’ll ever meet.”
Gaylord said Chambers, an honors student who took in advanced classes and played in the band in high school, had trouble sleeping the night before the crash, but the couple rarely drinks, and he’s never seen his girlfriend take drugs. “There’s no way she was drunk or impaired,” Gaylord said. “She’s just not that kind of person.”
Gaylord also said he’s never seen Chambers drive erratically.
“She’s honestly one of the most cautious drivers that I’ve ever ridden with,” he said. “She doesn’t run yellow lights.”
The family’s confusion is compounded by the grief they feel for the victims and their families, they said.
“Our hearts go out to those victims. It is a terrible, terrible thing that this happened,” Floyd Chambers said. “I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody. And I can’t undo it.”