A northern Indiana woman and her husband were charged Tuesday in an August hit-and-run that killed two children and an adult.
Elkhart County Prosecutor Vicki Becker said arrest warrants had been issued for Penelope A. Grosswiler, 40, and her husband, Leonard Grosswiler, 42, in the Aug. 26 crash along a street in the city of Elkhart.
Penelope Grosswiler faces six felony counts, including leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. The charges allege that she was driving when her vehicle struck five pedestrians, killing eight-month-old Dolly Thomas, 11-year-old Courtney Smith and 22-year-old Shawn Wolcott.
The accident gravely injured 22-year-old Bradley Smith of Elkhart, who was Dolly’s father and Courtney’s brother. Twenty-two-year-old Allison Smith of Elkhart was also injured.
Prosecutors say Leon Grosswiler tried to hide evidence of Penelope’s alleged involvement in the deadly crash. He faces one count of obstruction of justice.
Authorities said that after a vehicle struck the pedestrians, it hit two other vehicles before fleeing the scene. Elkhart police found the suspected car a few days later and in early November turned the case over to county prosecutors.
Becker said that during the four months between the accident and the charges being filed authorities faced rampant online speculation about the case.
“The police have been diligently doing their job to complete a thorough investigation and preserve the integrity of the evidence that will be material to proving this case in the criminal justice system despite the bevy of social media commentary,” she said in a statement.
Becker said two witnesses had identified the driver of the vehicle as a female and Leonard Grosswiler’s co-workers contacted police after he had told them “a false story as to why his vehicle was left at that location” where police eventually found it.
Becker said Penelope Grosswiler “gave multiple inconsistent versions of her actions” on the day of the deadly crash and a review of cellphone and internet records showed that she wasn’t being truthful. The prosecutor said those records provided significant evidence showing that the couple’s cellphones were travelling down the same Elkhart street, and at the same time, that the pedestrians were struck.
If convicted, Penelope Grosswiler could face up to 21 ½ years in prison. Her husband could face up to 2 1/2 years. Both could also face up to a $10,000 fine.