One night in March, Carl Ingraham got into his Mercury Mountaineer with his wife and two stepsons to drive to their Port St. Lucie home from a relative’s house.
His wife, Kelli Ingraham, said they had a few drinks at the house and she begged her husband not to drive, according to a police report.
“I got this,” Carl Ingraham told her multiple times, she claimed in the report.
Soon after, Carl Ingraham’s SUV hit a curb and flipped on its hood. Their 12-year-old son Jack was ejected and died after sustaining massive head injuries.
“This is all my fault. I was drinking,” Carl Ingraham told a witness, according to the report.
Carl Ingraham, 43, was arrested about two months later for DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and other felony charges.
But now, in what one DUI attorney called a rare case, Kelli Ingraham was arrested Tuesday and is facing her own charges — for knowing her husband was drunk and not doing anything to prevent her kids from being in the vehicle, according to the Port St. Lucie police report.
“Due to Kelli being just as complicit and irresponsible as Carl,” she is also being charged in the case, a traffic homicide investigator wrote in the report.
Fred Susaneck, a DUI attorney in Palm Beach County for three decades, said he’s never heard of a passenger being held responsible in a fatal drunk-driving crash.
“That’s really incredibly strange and unusual,” Susaneck said. “What was she supposed to do — wrestle the keys away from him to stop him from driving? What if it was the other way around and the mother died? Would they charge the child for allowing their father to drive?”
Kelli Ingraham, 38, faces charges including aggravated child abuse with great harm.
She is being held at the St. Lucie County Jail in lieu of $80,000 bail.
The tragic night
The crash that killed 12-year-old Jack Voellm occured early March 18.
Kelli Ingraham told police her family was at her cousin’s house “where we decided to have a couple of drinks and like idiots get into the car and drive home.”
Ingraham said she begged her husband not to drive and suggested spending the night at the cousin’s home, but he answered with, “I got this.” She decided not to pursue her request any further to avoid a “blow out” argument with her husband, according to the arrest report.
Carl Ingraham was driving the Mercury Mountaineer 65 mph and recklessly when the boys, seated in the rear seats, asked their father to slow down, the report said. Kelly Ingraham said she made the same request and her husband again answered, “I got this.”
Moments later the SUV hit a curb, flipped on its hood, then rolled for around 750 feet before coming to a stop on the 3300 block of Southeast Southbend Boulevard.
After Jack was ejected, he sustained massive head injuries and the amputation of his right arm.
Police found that the 12-year-old was not wearing a seat belt.
Carl and Kelli Ingraham, seated in the front passenger seat, and their 17-year-old son were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
Carl Ingraham, 43, was arrested May 25 for DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and other felony charges. A records show uncovered that Ingraham was driving with a license suspended in New York. He was released from the St. Lucie County Jail on June 17 after posting a $290,000 bond.
After the crash, Carl Ingraham realized his 12-year-old stepson was dead and told a witness, “This is all my fault. I was drinking. I killed my son. I wanna die,” the report states.
Now his wife is facing charges.
“It’s not against the law to ride in a car with your faculties impaired,” Susaneck said. “What more do they want from her? She was trying to stop him and he wouldn’t stop.”