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A photo from last Tuesday's wreck on Kanawha Hill / Brian Bergstrom

Driver arrested following Kanawha Hill wreck now facing felony

BUCKHANNON – A woman who was arrested last week on a misdemeanor DUI charge after a head-on collision on Kanawha Hill sent her child to the hospital with a lacerated liver is now facing a felony charge.

Brandi Dawn Morris, 33, of Buckhannon, was initially arrested for narcotic DUI with an unemancipated minor, no operator’s license and no insurance, all misdemeanors.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office by investigating officer Cpl. Darin Hissam with the Buckhannon Police Department, Morris has been charged with child neglect resulting in injury, a felony.

At 9:40 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, Morris’s Subaru legacy crossed the center line of South Kanawha Street near its intersection with Boggess Street and struck the driver of a Porsche Cayenne, 46-year-old Michael Shaffer, head on. (Read last week’s story here.)

Two individuals – Morris’s eight-year-old son and Shaffer – were initially transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital and then transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown via ambulance, as HealthNet was grounded due to severe weather.

In the complaint, filed Thursday, Aug. 15, Hissam noted Morris had been operating her vehicle in an “impaired” state at the time of the collision. The report also says the child riding in the vehicle with her was not wearing appropriate child safety restraints.

The child reportedly “received injuries that included a Grade III laceration to his liver and abrasions to his scalp, chin and chest,” Hissam wrote.

“[Morris] knowingly operated her vehicle while in an impaired state after failing to properly restrain him with appropriate safety restraints,” the file continues, which “led directly to the wreck that caused the injuries to her son.”

Angela Jones-Knopf, a spokesperson for WVU Medicine, said Monday afternoon that she had no information available on the child, and that Shaffer was not currently listed as a patient at Ruby.

Magistrate Mike Coffman set bail at $90,000 on the felony charge, in addition to $12,500 on the two misdemeanor charges.

The penalty for a conviction of child neglect resulting in injury is confinement in the state penitentiary for a term of one to three years or a fine ranging between $100 and $1,000, or at the discretion of the court, imprisonment in jail for up to a year.

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