Queniya Shelton is seen in this undated family photo. (Shelton Family)
Erika Shelton (Spartanburg Co. Detention Center Inmate Histories)
Rescuers work to a free a woman trapped in an SUV after a crash in Spartanburg County. (Aug. 6, 2012/Cowpens Fire Dept.)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -
The mother who deputies said was driving an SUV that crashed during a chase Monday morning, throwing her daughter from the vehicle, was officially charged Wednesday.
The crash happened on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County, near mile marker 81 on the northbound side, about 9:20 a.m.
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said a deputy, who was working during Operation Rolling Thunder, was trying to stop the vehicle when the driver fled at speeds of more than 100 mph.
Wright said the driver then had the 7-year-old girl unbuckle, open up a container full of marijuana and throw it out the window, just before. He said at least half a pound of marijuana was found scattered around the crash site.
Wright said the deputy did not know a child was in the car, and was very shaken up by the incident. He said dash cam video showed that the deputy stayed far behind the vehicle and that he followed protocol.
"We are the police," Wright said. "We chase bad guys. We are not at fault in this wreck. Had we known the child was in the car, we would've certainly done things differently."
Wright said the driver made a bad choice to run with the child in the car and was most likely high on marijuana at the time. He said prayers were needed for the family and for the child.
The driver of the vehicle, identified as 26-year-old Erika Shelton, suffered broken bones in the crash. Shelton's daughter, identified as Queniya Shelton, was taken to the hospital, where she later died.
On Wednesday, Wright said Erika Shelton was charged with failure to stop for a blue light involving death, unlawful neglect of a child, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, driving under suspension, reckless driving and being a habitual traffic offender. He said investigators are determining whether there are more charges she could face.
Trena Rice, Erika Shelton's mother and Queniya Shelton's grandmother, told FOX Carolina on Wednesday that deputy's should have stopped the chase.
"They say my grand-baby was throwing stuff out (of) the car," Rice said. "If they can say that, (then) they knew she was in the car."
Rice said Queniya Shelton lived with her and had big dreams.
"She knew what she wanted out of life," Rice said. "She wanted to be a doctor or engineer."
Rice said her granddaughter was a straight-A student at Hendricks Elementary School in Boiling Springs. She said it's difficult to wrap her mind around the fact her granddaughter won't be coming back home.
No funeral arrangements have yet been made for Queniya Shelton.
The sheriff said they will not change plans for Operation Rolling Thunder, which is a week-long traffic enforcement effort to make the highways in Spartanburg County safer. More information about the operation's efforts will be released Friday.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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