Man charged nearly year after I-235 wrong-way, head-on crash severely injured woman

OKLAHOMA CITY - Charges have been filed against an Oklahoma City man, accused of driving the wrong way, under the influence and causing a head-on crash on I-235 that severely injured a woman last year.

Toby Pedford, 38, of Oklahoma City, was charged last month with causing great body injury while driving under the influence.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Pedford was behind the wheel of a Hyundai sedan traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of I-235 in the early morning hours of March 8 when he struck an SUV, head-on.

According to court documents, 911 calls reported a Hyundai driving southbound from Hefner and later 63rd Street on the Broadway Extension, in the northbound lanes, until the OHP was dispatched to a two vehicle crash between I-44 and 50th Street shortly after 12:30 a.m. The Hyundai crashed into a Volvo SUV driven by Helen Mullen of Oklahoma City. Mullen suffered internal injuries including broken ribs, two broken ankles, a damaged spleen and required surgery.

Court documents say Pedford appeared intoxicated, had slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes, was talkative yet uncooperative with investigators. Both Pedford and Mullen were transported to OU Medical Center: Mullen for surgery and Peford for a blood draw. According to an arrest warrant, Pedford spent nearly seven hours at a northwest side restaurant and bar Junior's, 2601 NW Expressway, drinking, before leaving shortly after midnight.

Pedford told troopers he was coming from the bar and heading to his far northwest side home, near Memorial and County Line Roads, when he crashed into Mullen's vehicle, nearly 20 miles from his destination. According to court documents, results from Pedford's blood analysis indicated a BAC of 0.019, below the legal limit, and didn't show any other substances in his system.

Pedford wasn't arrested at the time of the crash. In the months that followed, the case remained active. Investigators obtained search warrants for the vehicle's on-board computers. Mullen filed a civil suit against Pedford and Junior's last October, seeking damages.

In mid-December, investigators turned the case over to the district attorney's office for review. Prosecutors filed charges on January 31.

The highway patrol said Thursday the lengthy timeline between the crash and the case being handed off to the Oklahoma County District Attorney was due to a number of aspects of the investigation, namely if Mullen would survive her injuries.

"When you have a serious injury or fatality – potential fatality crash – you have to wait and see how that plays out. Because that really, ultimately, determines what type of charges you're going to file," said OHP Capt. Paul Timmons. "We have to make sure that we have all the evidence, information, interview all the witnesses – potential witnesses – that we don't leave any stone unturned."

Pedford's attorney in the civil suit declined to comment about the matter. No attorney is listed in the criminal case, according to online court records. Pedford is out on bond and has a court date scheduled for early next month.

Mullen's civil case is still pending. Calls and messages to her attorney went unreturned.

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