Public Safety

Woman arrested in connection to October fatal hit-and-run in Cedar Rapids

Ashley Pennington, 25, faces multiple charges

CEDAR RAPIDS — Police say after Ashley Pennington crashed a stolen vehicle into a motorcycle on Oct. 1, she fled the scene on foot, leaving behind her cellphone and a badly injured man.

The driver of the motorcycle, Michael A. Olson, 63, died on Oct. 17 at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as a result of the injuries he suffered in the crash.

On Thursday, Pennington, 25, of Cedar Rapids, was booked in the Linn County Jail and charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, second-degree theft and forgery. All three charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

According to a criminal complaint, Pennington borrowed a 2000 Honda Accord from Jessie Philiph and failed to return the car as promised. She then forged and cashed a check on Philiph’s account for $175 at the University of Iowa Credit Union.

Pennington, in the stolen Honda, turned in front of the motorcycle, driven by Olson, at the intersection of C Avenue and 20th Ave. SW, causing the crash that resulted in Olson’s death, according to the complaint. Witnesses saw Pennington run from the scene without giving information and aid, which is required by law, the complaint states.

The complaint also shows Pennington left her cellphone in the vehicle and later admitted to several family members that she left the scene. Police also identified Pennington from security video captured at the credit union, according to the complaint.

During the investigation, officers found that Philliph’s car was reported stolen on Sept. 26 and had stolen plates on it, according to police.


Olson, a graduate of Washington High School, was married for 40 years and had three children, three grandchildren and four siblings, according to his daughter, Cara Anderson. Olson loved camping, fishing, riding his motorcycle, “tinkering around” outdoors and watching local bands, his daughter said. He loved the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and rooted for former Iowa players in the NFL.

“He was the kind of person that would give someone he barely knew the shirt off his back (and) always offered a helping hand when he could,” Anderson said.

In late October, as police continued their investigation into the crash, Anderson had harsh words for the driver who fled the scene of the crash.

“I wish you could feel even an ounce of the pain that he did or the grief that we feel not only from the loss of our loved one, but because you left him there to die alone in a puddle of his own blood,” she said in an email to The Gazette. “There is no punishment that will be harsh enough, only the little bit of peace that you will someday have to suffer some type of consequence for your actions and face what you have done.”

Before being taken to the Linn County Jail on Thursday, Pennington was being held in the Polk County Jail on other charges. In addition to the new charges filed Thursday, she also pleaded guilty in Linn County District Court to charges related to an incident in August where she was driving a stolen vehicle belonging to an Aplington man and led police on a high-speed chase as they attempted to stop her. A criminal complaint shows Pennington crashed the vehicle during the chase in the 300 block of 16th Avenue SE, and officers found methamphetamine and marijuana in the car. Sentencing in that case is set for Jan. 16.

Pennington also was a main witness in the Kendu Petties murder trial last February. Petties, 32, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. He fatally shot Sierrah Simmons, 20, and Quintrell Perkins, 22, both of Cedar Rapids, on April 2, 2014. He is serving life in prison without parole.

Gazette courts reporter Trish Mehaffey contributed.

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