Wrong-way driver is same Sullivan woman tied to last year's Capitol riots
A woman charged for participating in the U.S. Capitol riots a year ago was drunk and driving the wrong way on Interstate 44 near Stanton on Wednesday night when her car struck another vehicle, killing a St. Clair woman and seriously injuring a St. Clair man, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified the wrong-way driver as Emily Hernandez, 22, of Sullivan.
Hernandez, who was driving a 2014 Volkswagen Passat, was taken to Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur with serious injuries.
The crash happened shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday on eastbound I-44. The woman who died was identified as Victoria “Vickie” N. Wilson, of St. Clair. She was a passenger in a 2019 Buick Enclave driven by her husband, Ryan E. Wilson. He suffered serious injuries and was initially taken by ambulance to Missouri Baptist in Sullivan but was later transferred to Mercy Hospital St.Louis in Creve Coeur.
The couple was preparing to commemorate their 15th anniversary, returning with carry-outs from Applebee’s in Sullivan to celebrate.
“He is upset, he is scared. He is angry. He is apologetic. He doesn’t know what he is going to do. He is just at a loss,” said Angie Ortiz, Victoria Wilson’s eldest sister. She said her brother-in-law suffered injuries to his left hand, left arm and to his right foot and will require surgeries.
“He has told us that he tried to save her, but he couldn’t wake her up,” said Ortiz, who had given the couple the gift card they used for their meal Wednesday.
The Wilsons’ vehicle was hit on the front passenger side by Hernandez’s Volkswagen, according to the highway patrol.
Following the initial crash, Hernandez’s vehicle stopped in the right lane of the eastbound lanes, while the Wilsons’ vehicle hit cable barriers in the median.
Since the crash, the highway patrol have cited Hernandez on allegations that she was driving while intoxicated, resulting in death and driving while intoxicated, resulting in serious physical injury to another. Attempts to reach Cpl. Dallas Thompson, public information officer for the highway patrol, were unsuccessful as of press time.
As of Friday, no formal charges had been filed against Hernandez, according to electronic court records.
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Becker said a decision on charges won’t be made until he receives toxicology reports that detail Hernandez’s blood alcohol levels at the time of the crash. That report likely won’t be ready for several weeks, Becker said.
Hernandez has been released from the hospital following surgery to address a head wound, according to defense attorney Ethan Corlija, one of the attorneys representing Hernandez in criminal proceedings in D.C. related to the riots over the 2020 presidential election.
In that case, Hernandez will participate in a plea hearing via teleconference on Monday regarding the charges she faces in D.C., Corlija said. Per the terms of the plea deal, she will plead guilty to the charge of entering and remaining in a restricted government building, a Class A misdemeanor.
The other charges — disorderly conduct that impedes the conduct of government business, demonstrating in the Capitol, stealing and disposing of government property — will be dismissed.
Hernandez was spotted on a British newscast, in several Associated Press photographs and on social media outside of the Capitol, carrying portions of a sign that was once outside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office. Hernandez was one of three people who traveled together to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally. All three entered the Capitol and were charged. William D. “Bill” Merry, Hernandez’s uncle, and Paul Scott Westover, his friend, have both pleaded guilty.
Hernandez won’t be sentenced at Monday’s hearing, Corlija said, and a date for sentencing has not been set. She faces the possibility of serving six months in federal prison.
He said Wednesday’s crash was unrelated to Monday’s court proceedings.
Corlija said Hernandez is “heartbroken” and “very distraught” over what happened on I-44. He said the crash is something “she will be carrying with her for the rest of her life.”
“My client knows that words alone are not able to mend the wounds that she has inflicted on the family,” said Corlija, who described Hernandez as a “very responsible person.”
As they grieve, the two sisters said their family has little use for Corlija’s words or any “hollow” words from Hernandez. The two sisters, who spoke to The Missourian on behalf of the Wilson family, said they hope the federal judge holds Hernandez responsible and gives her a long prison sentence.
“After what she did in D.C., where she made a mockery of our government, of our country, I would hope she never walks the streets again,” Moore said. Ortiz said their family will be in attendance at upcoming court proceeding involving Hernandez to ensure justice comes for Victoria Wilson, the youngest of four sisters, whom they called “Vickie Nickie.”
Victoria Wilson was someone “who brought life to everything. ... We definitely lost a huge piece of our family’s puzzle, because being her sister was an amazing experience,” Moore said. Funeral services for Wilson are pending and won’t be made until her husband is released from the hospital.
The sisters described their sister as someone who was devoted to her family, had a passion for serving others, working in home health for people with disabilities and the elderly, and who wanted to make the world a kinder and happier place.
Prior to their fateful trip to Sullivan, the couple had been delivering handmade gifts that the Wilsons’ had made. Victoria had a knack for crafting and for restoring old furniture, Moore said. They hope Hernandez never forgets Wilson, just as they will never forget their sister.
“I hope that when she closes her eyes for the final time that she rots in hell, because that is where she has put our family,” Ortiz said. “We are in hell.”