INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – An Orchid woman faces multiple charges arising from what police said was a high-speed crash caused by an intoxicated driver that led to the death of a John’s Island man last year.
Elizabeth Danielsen, 61, was charged with vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter and DUI with serious bodily harm in the May 10, 2022 crash.
Charles Ingraham, 89, died after eight days in a hospital from what a medical examiner said was “complications of blunt impact injuries of the torso” sustained as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, and pre-existing heart problems.
Police sought and served Danielsen a warrant Jan. 19, taking her to the Indian River County Jail following her arrest while poolside at the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club where she has lived since her 2019 marriage to California attorney Paul Danielsen, 63, according to police and court records.
She was released from jail Jan. 20 on $150,000 bail, according to court records.
Elizabeth Danielsen was not identified as the suspected driver until the day of the arrest and is still referred in some court records by her former name, Elizabeth Jewkes.
Police records show the two-car crash happened shortly before 8:45 p.m. May 10 in the 6400 block of State Road A1A near Bermuda Bay Lane just south of the John’s Island South Oceanside and Riverside gates, roughly a half mile north of the Indian River Shores Public Safety Department.
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The two vehicles involved were a convertible, coupe Mercedes Benz E 350, occupied by Danielsen and a Lexus ES350 occupied by Ingraham and his wife Frances Ingraham.
The Lexus was struck from behind by the Mercedes Benz, while both vehicles were traveling north on S.R. A1A, Indian River Shores Officer Edward Ryer stated in a report.
All three people were taken to hospitals with varying degrees of injuries. Ingraham also suffered several fractures in his neck, back and ribs and extensive bruising.
The Mercedes had “significant front-end damage” and was found with its top down and driver side airbag deployed when officers arrived
Danielsen was initially cited for traffic violations of unlawful speeding over 30 mph above the limit and for not wearing a seatbelt.
The speeding ticket states she was traveling 93 in a 45-mph zone, leading to a crash with a fatality and serious bodily injury along with at least $40,000 in property damage.
‘An awful long time’
Defense attorney Andrew Metcalf said the eight-month window between the crash and arrest was “not a normal thing.”
He said it would take at least as long for their review of police findings.
“This case took an awful long time to come to fruition (and) what has been done has to be looked at very closely,” he said.
In July he submitted two documents disputing the speeding and seat belt citations on Danielsen’s behalf.
In citing Danielsen, police investigators relied on information from the vehicles’ event data recorder and said the “vehicle EDR showed speed at 93 mph 0.5 seconds prior to impact” and that the “data is indicating (Danielsen) was the driver.”
Since 2014 all vehicles are equipped with the digital devices that record multiple internal and external variables of their operation and show data recorded seconds “before, during and after a crash,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Both citations were dismissed July 13 because information from the event data recorder alone could not be used to issue citations, according to court records.
Going forward, Metcalf said police investigative methods, evidence obtained from digital devices and the means of deriving blood alcohol after the incident would all be under scrutiny.
“These kind of cases take some time to unfold to see what evidence is there and what evidence is lacking,” Metcalf said.
Vehicle speed and evidence from the EDR are among the areas of scrutiny.
“There are all kinds of conditions that can create and erroneous speed on an EDR,” Metcalf said. “I’ve seen officers misinterpret EDRs … some of the best officers misinterpret EDRs.”
Assistant State Attorney Bill Long, who is assigned to the case, said he couldn’t comment on it at the risk of “influenc(ing) jurors” who might later decide Danielsen’s degree of guilt or innocence.
As for the length of the investigation, Long said, “Generally every traffic homicide investigation is different.”
An arraignment on the charges is set for March 23. Although a year has passed since the crash, Metcalf said, “It’s still a very new case.”
A remembrance ceremony was held for Ingraham at a church in his home state of Rhode Island. The United Congregational Church of Little Compton published a recording of the service on Youtube and in it family and friends describe the former Polaroid executive with roots in Vero Beach dating to the 1950s as an avid fan of skiing, golf, tennis, fishing, gardening, birding, American history and sailing.