A Bay City woman drove into oncoming traffic causing a fatal crash that killed her, another woman and critically injured her four-month-old son.
Jessica Leitner was pronounced dead at the scene. She was involved in a head-on collision with a white 2017 Buick Lacrosse. A 54-year-old woman, Ann Lynn Garske, was also killed in the accident. Leitner’s son, Jordan, is presently in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The little boy was reportedly not buckled into a car seat at the time of the crash. Ann Lynn Garske’s father, who was driving the Buick, has also been hospitalized. The 83-year-old man suffered serious injuries in the crash.
According to a witness that spoke to Michigan Live, Leitner’s silver 2003 Chevrolet Impala was headed southbound on Interstate 75 around 5:10 pm when the 38-year-old woman suddenly changed direction and veered into oncoming traffic. Several vehicles managed to react quickly and get out of the way. Unfortunately, Leitner’s Chevy ploughed into the Garskes’ before they could get out of the way. Ryan Strohkirch said he was on the I-75 driving south and saw the fatal collision. The driver said he witnessed Leitner headed in the wrong direction at full speed.
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“You could see her lights up the way. You could see people moving over and flashing (their lights). You could immediately tell she was driving really fast, 90 to 100 mph. At that point, you kind of realize she’s doing that on purpose. I saw her for at least three miles and she passed at least one turnaround…Why else would she going down the wrong expressway at 100m mph when no one was chasing her?”
Reports have confirmed that Leitner was on probation for traffic violations in both Arenac and Bay counties before she died. In August, Arenac County Sheriff deputies had pulled over the 38-year-old in a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix for the inappropriate use of a car lane. Her son Jordan was only 7-days-old at the time. Court records asserted that the baby was left unsecured in a car seat.
His mother was arrested on drunken driving charges. A person is said to be legally intoxicated in Michigan when the blood level hits 0.08. A person is deemed “super drunk” when the blood level reaches 0.17. The alcohol-testing device showed that Jessica Leitner’s blood level was at 0.27.
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She was arraigned in a district court on charges of driving while intoxicated, driving without insurance, driving with an open intoxicant, driving on a suspended license and child endangerment. On October 17, she pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence and driving on a suspended license. On November 5, a judge sentenced her to 45 days in jail. She was released November 22, given credit for two days previously served and placed on probation for a year.
The 38-year-old had been barred from consuming alcohol during her probationary period. Court records have revealed that she repeatedly violated the condition. Her probation was in effect when she died. It is unconfirmed if her license had been reinstated before the car crash.
Leitner was involved in a tumultuous relationship with Drew Santos. In April 2015, Santos was charged with two felonies after reportedly suffocating a pregnant Leitner and beating her to the point that she lost her baby. When police responded to Jessica Leitner’s complaint, her alcohol blood level was 0.22. Santos pleaded guilty to third-offense domestic violence and got three years probation. In August 2015, Leitner was in court on a domestic violence count after assaulting Santos at his residence. She pleaded guilty in October 2015 and was told not to have any contact with him again.
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The Daily Mail is reporting that Leitner changed her Facebook profile picture to a cloudy photo of the sun coming up from some trees on the day that she died. Her last five profile pictures were of her son, Jordan. A friend to the Bay City woman, Amanda Anquetil, revealed that Leitner was a deeply troubled woman.
Anquetil said she met her in 2014 at the Bay Metro station and they started chatting. According to her, they were both struggling with alcohol addiction and ended up staying in the same room for four months at a homeless shelter. Amanda said on one occasion, Leitner had tried to convince her to commit suicide along with her. Amanda said Jessica Leitner was a good woman when she was not drinking. She added that she was suffering from mental illness.
“She was beautiful and soft-spoken and had compassion. When she wasn’t drinking and I got her on the level of opening up to me, she had the best outlook on life. Behind all of this mental illness, she was crying for help…It’s like her to want to die, it’s not like her to inflict pain on others…something must have made her snap for her to do.”
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Toxicology tests on Jessica Leitner would determine if alcohol or drugs were responsible for her death.
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