An Ulster County grand jury has declined to file criminal charges against the young woman who was at the wheel of an accident in Saugerties that took the lives of four Kingston friends last August.
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said in a statement Wednesday that the grand jury found no evidence that 20-year-old Meredith McSpirit had been impaired at the time of the accident.
The accident occurred at about 11:35 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2015, taking the lives of Kingston residents Jonte Clark, Adam “Jeff” McQueen, Dante Crump and Kaireem Meeks Jr.
The car McSpirit was driving went over an embankment near Montgomery Street, became airborne, flipped onto its roof and landed on the street below. Memorial services and community gathering in the wake of the tragedy drew hundreds of mourners and raised questions about what happened and why.
In his statement, Carnright emphasized the investigation’s thoroughness in assessing the question of whether McSpirit was impaired: “That part of the investigation included interviews of individuals who had contact with or worked with Ms. McSpirit that morning, video of the operation of the vehicle prior to the crash, statements made by Ms. McSpirit to both medical personnel and law enforcement and laboratory analysis of her blood.
The grand jury, he concluded found “no such evidence of impairment exists.”
In his statement, Carnright said it was “troubling, at best, not to be able to give a concrete explanation as to how this terrible, terrible tragedy occurred.”
In an interview Wednesday, Carnright said the investigation’s thoroughness partly explained the length of time it took to present the evidence to the grand jury.
“We’ve been involved from the start, and we’ve looked at everything you can imagine — did you hear this and did you that — all the rumors. We talked to people and if we heard anything, we ran it down. … I can assure you we looked into everything you can imagine.” he said.
He voiced his frustration at being legally prohibited from sharing detailed information about what was presented to the grand jury.
Asked if, as the result of the investigation, he could summarize and answer the question of why the accident happened, Carnright said, “How could this happen? Sometimes,” he said with a sigh, “there’s not an answer.”