Officials identify siblings killed in boat club crash, release conditions of injured

GoFundMe for family impacted by Swan Boat Club crash
Posted at 2:53 PM, Apr 22, 2024

Update on Tuesday, April 23

The suspect in the crash, 66-year-old Marshella Chidester was arraigned in court on eight charges, including two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of OWI causing death and four counts of OWI causing serious injury. She was given a $1.5 million bond with substance abuse monitoring.

Watch the full arraignment below

FULL ARRAIGNMENT: Driver arraigned in Swan Boat Club crash that killed 2 kids, injured others

The arraignment was interrupted several times on Zoom by people watching, including a woman who said she was the grandmother of the children who were killed.

Raquel Smothers, the aunt of the three children also spoke during the arraignment in person saying, "We were supposed to be planning a birthday party for Zayn not a funeral."

"They walked into that birthday party having a fun time. They were sitting at that table eating and this woman crashed her car through this building destroying all of our lives," she added.

VIDEO: Hear from the aunt during the arraignment below:

Aunt of 2 kids killed in Swan Boat Club crash speaks at the arraignment of suspect

Original story below

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office has identified the two siblings who were killed in the crash at Swan Boat Club in Berlin Township on Saturday afternoon.

According to the sheriff's office, 8-year-old Alanah Phillips and 4-year-old Zayn Phillips were pronounced dead at the scene after officials say a 66-year-old woman crashed into a building where a kid's birthday party was being held.

Nine other people were injured and transported to area hospitals via ambulance or air ambulance. Their conditions are as follows:

  • 31-year-old woman remains in critical condition
  • 11-year-old boy remains in critical condition
  • 18-year-old woman in serious condition
  • 16-year-old girl in serious condition
  • 14-year-old boy in serious condition
  • 70-year-old woman with minor injuries
  • 66-year-old woman with minor injuries
  • 62-year-old woman with minor injuries
  • 57-year-old woman with minor injuries

Officials say a 42-year-old man also sustained minor injuries and sought treatment on his own.
The arraignment for the 66-year-old woman accused in the crash is expected to happen on Tuesday.

Community members have been stopping by the Swan Boat Club paying their respects to the victims.

A small memorial has been set up outside the building.

“We couldn’t believe it. We still can’t believe it,” said Ed Wenderski, a Berlin Township resident.

VIDEO: Watch Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough provide an update after the tragedy:

2 kids dead, multiple injured after driver crashes into building during child's birthday party

“Everybody’s sad, my wife was crying,” Wenderski said. “We just feel sorry for you, in our prayers.”

Wenderski lives down the street from the boat club.

He says his son’s pickup truck was hit on Saturday. He believes it was by the same driver who crashed into the boat club.

“I don’t know if you can see the tire tracks. His back tire was probably right here… We think it got pushed back by 12 feet,” Wenderski said.

VIDEO: Video shows the vehicle right before the deadly crash into the building:

Video shows vehicle right before deadly crash into Monroe County building during birthday party

We also spoke with another neighbor who was out with his young daughter as she was riding her bike.

He had this message for the victims’ family.

“Absolutely heartbreaking. It’s just a terrible tragedy. We are very sorry for your losses and you are in our thoughts and prayers,” Steve Cybulla of Berlin Township said.

The two siblings who were killed in the crash were students of Flat Rock Community Schools.

The district sent out a letter regarding the situation. Here’s some of what it said.

It is with a heavy heart that I reach out to you today following the tragic events that unfolded yesterday. A senseless accident occurred where a drunk driver crashed into Swan Creek Boat Club, resulting in the loss of two siblings who were students in our school (Early Childhood Center, Bobcean Elementary) and severe injuries of a third sibling (Simpson Middle School).

Our entire school community is reeling from this devastating news, and our hearts ache for the families and loved ones of those affected by this unimaginable tragedy. Words cannot adequately express the depth of our sorrow, nor can they ease the pain of those who are grieving. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with every one of you during this incredibly difficult time.

In times of tragedy, it is essential that we come together as a community to support one another. Now, more than ever, we must extend our compassion and solidarity to those who need it most. As we navigate through this challenging time, let us lean on each other for strength and comfort, and let us show kindness and understanding to all who are affected by this heartbreaking loss.

When our students return to school on Monday, our counselors and social workers will be on hand to provide support and assistance to any students and families who may need it. We are committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment where everyone feels supported, heard, and valued as we begin the healing process together.
Flat Rock Community Schools

“I’m very heartbroken. I couldn’t imagine such a tragic thing to happen," Naomi Rascol, a Flat Rock resident said.

Rascol's daughter was friends with Alanah Phillips. Her daughter and Alanah both went to Bobcean Elementary in Flat Rock.

“Sometimes, I would see her coming off the bus walking home and my daughter and her would play together, and it’s just really hard," Rascol said.

If you would like to help the family pay for funeral services, you can do so at the verified GoFundMe link here.

A GoFundMe has also been set up for on of the victims in the hospital. This page is also verified.

Meanwhile, the suspect is currently being held at the Monroe County Jail.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau at 734-240-7530.