Johnson County Metro

Cedar Rapids woman charged with vehicular homicide in January 2016 crash

CORALVILLE — A Cedar Rapids woman has been charged in connection with a fatal crash that killed a Swisher woman last year.

According to the Iowa State Patrol, 21-year-old Kaitlyn I. Richards was involved in a crash around 1:50 p.m. Jan. 24, 2016, on Interstate 80 near Coralville that killed 54-year-old Patricia A. Mittauer of Swisher. The state patrol said at the time of the crash that Richards rear-ended Mittauer, sending her into another lane where she collided with a semi truck and was killed.

According to a criminal complaint filed last month, Richards was speeding, following Mittauer too closely and using her cellphone at the time of the crash. She has been charged with homicide by vehicle — reckless driving.

The circumstances of the fatal crash are hardly uncommon in Iowa these days, which had at least 400 traffic fatalities in 2016.

“Cellphones are an issue and distracted driving is an issue right now,” said State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig, speaking generally about traffic fatalities. He added that a majority of those fatal crashes have involved high speeds and people not paying attention.

Richards has been arrested for operating under the influence twice since the fatal crash. The first arrest happened on April 10, when the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said she was stopped for speeding just after midnight and had a .15 percent blood alcohol content.

On May 13, Iowa City police responded to a 911 hangup and discovered Richards in a running car. She admitted to smoking marijuana and police said they found 30.3 grams of marijuana in her purse.

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Homicide by vehicle — reckless driving is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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