SPOKANE, Wash. - The 89-year-old woman involved in a crash that left a 9-year-old girl dead will be undergoing a driver re-exam to determine whether or not, at her age, she is capable of being on the road.
Nine-year-old Nehalah May was riding on her grandfather's motorcycle when it collided Sunday afternoon with a car driven by 89-year-old Esther Mae Westlund.
Westlund was making a turn off Highway 195 about three miles south of Spokane when the crash happened.
The girl was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center where she died. Her grandfather, 51-year-old Robin Scholz was taken to Deaconess Medical Center in serious condition. Westlund was not injured and was cited for negligent driving for failing to yield the right of way which incurs a $550 fine.
Many people are wondering if Westlund's age played a factor in the crash. Troopers say age may have been an issue, but it is only one of several things they are required to investigate.
In this case, police say Westlund was not impaired, not texting and not on the phone. They say what happened was simply a mistake, a mistake that could have happened to anyone, regardless of age.
"When we live in a lenient society, tragic situations will occur. This is one of them, says Trooper Al Larned. "There is nothing else we can do. Sure I'd like to see other things happen, but I don't get to make the laws, I just enforce them."
Troopers say this is a matter of someone's privileges, rights and privacy. Troopers say the question is not an easy one to answer; at what point do you deny someone the privilege of driving to protect the lives of others? You can leave your answer in the comment section below.
If Westlund fails the driver re-exam, her license will be revoked. Troopers say Westlund has already told them she will never get behind the wheel again.
A memorial fund has been set up at the Chewelah Bank of America under Nehalah May or Ron May. There will be two memorials for Nehalah this Saturday (May 16); one at Gess Elementary at noon. The second at the May residence in Chewelah at 1 p.m.
Their address is 2261 Cozy Nook Road. Ron May says all who knew Nehalah are welcome to attend.
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