Driver sentenced to 4 months of ‘shock time’ in DUI crash that killed 3 teenagers

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A St. Charles County Circuit Court judge sentenced a Lincoln County woman to 10 years in state prison for a fatal 2023 crash that killed three teenagers, only to suspend that sentence and order she be remanded to spend 120 days in county jail.

Judge Michael Fargas sentenced Hailey Zenk to 10 years for DWI – death of 2 or more, 7 years for DWI – serious physical injury, and 7 years each on three counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter. The sentences were said to run concurrently in the Missouri Department of Corrections. However, after reading off the sentence in its entirety, Judge Fargas suspended that and handed down the shock time sentence.

The crash happened around 3:40 a.m. on Feb. 5, 2023, on South Chantilly Road, south of Ethington Road. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a 2008 Ford Focus was driving north when it briefly flew into the air, skidded off the road, hit a tree, and flipped over.

Zenk had to be extricated from the car. She and another passenger had to be airlifted to a St. Louis hospital with serious injuries.

The other three passengers in the car, William Flickinger, 18, Emily McNees, 17, and Kaeden Tyler, 15, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Witness interviews indicated Zenk and others in the vehicle had smoked marijuana before the crash.

Data from the Ford Focus showed the vehicle was traveling approximately 81 miles per hour just four seconds prior to airbag deployment. South Chantilly Road has a posted speed limit of 35 mph. Zenk’s blood and urine tested positive for benzodiazepines and cannabis.

In October 2023, Zenk’s attorneys requested a change of venue from Lincoln County to St. Charles County. Zenk entered an Alford plea on April 15, 2024, pleading guilty to DWI (death of 2 or more), DWI (serious physical injury), and three counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter.

An Alford plea is sometimes referred to as a “best interests plea,” in which a defendant enters a guilty plea without pleading guilty in the eyes of the court but accepts the court’s sentence nonetheless.

Prior to the hearing, members of the victims’ families and Zenk’s family entered the court separately, with bailiffs and Judge Fargas warning against any outbursts during the proceedings.

Category: General News