“It’s surreal right now,” Oklahoma family coping with mother’s death after turnpike crash

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OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma family said they’re heartbroken over the untimely death of their mother who was killed in a crash on the Kirkpatrick Turnpike.

Donna Rush, 65, died Tuesday night after authorities with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a driver rear-ended her car.

OHP has identified the driver as Arthur Wesley Straehla, III. They said he had an odor of alcohol. No arrests were made.

Rush’s daughter, Effie Babcock, told News 4 her mother was driving from Tulsa to her home in El Reno.

“It’s surreal right now. I can’t imagine life without her, calling or coming to see us,” Babcock said. “Our mother was a great mom. She was a hard worker, worked all the time. She instilled that in each one of us children. She struggled, we struggled but we made it.”

Babcock said she’s disappointed no legal action was taken, considering her mother died on the scene.

“It angers me because, if he [Straehla] was treated and released, why wasn’t he arrested?” Babcock said.

According to an initial report from OHP, the driver refused treatment. News 4 stopped by his last listed address to get his side of the story, however no one answered the door.

The issue of drinking and driving hits home for Rush’s family. Her youngest son, James Reveles, and his brother were taken in by the family in 1990 when they were just 6 and 8 years old.

“My [biological] mother was killed in a vehicular accident alcohol was involved,” Reveles told us. “Unfortunately, it was my biological mom and dad that were drinking and driving and we got into an accident. Me and my sibling were in the vehicle, and my mom lost her life.”

Moving forward, the family said they are focused on supporting each other and trying to forgive.

“I know that’s tough and that’s hard, but that’s how she would want us to move forward is to control what we can and take care of our families,” Reveles said.

News 4 reached out to the OHP multiple times on Wednesday for a comment.

Lt. Kera Phillipe said this was an “unique” situation from the very beginning, as the driver exercised his 5th amendment from the “very beginning”. According to Lt. Phillipe, he essentially stayed silent the entire time and refused to consent to a sobriety test. Troopers were able to get a warrant to draw his blood, and results are forthcoming.

Phillipe said they are still waiting for crash data information which should be able to give insight on the speed of both drivers. The investigation into the crash continues.

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