A Wisconsin mom has been charged with three counts of homicide after allegedly causing a car crash that killed her daughter and two young nieces.
Kari J. Milberg, 34, is accused of being on Facebook while behind the wheel right before the crash in Prescott in December 2013.
Milberg's daughter Lydia, 11, died instantly in the collision on Highway 35 near 468th Street, while her two five-year-old nieces, Clara Pavek and Laynie Jo Amos, later died in hospital.
Each of the nieces were the daughters of Milberg's two sisters, meaning all three women lost a daughter in the tragedy.
Cellphone records have shown Milberg - who was left in a critical following the crash but has since recovered - was sending and receiving Facebook messages up to two minutes before the crash, according to The Star Tribune.
Following a lengthy investigation, she has been charged with three counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and one count of reckless driving.
News of the horror smash devastated those close to the family, with many praising the Milbergs as the 'closest, most loving siblings'. They were a well-known family in the area.
Michael Pavek, Clara's father, told KARE 11 his daughter was a 'beautiful soul' who adored her older cousin, Lydia.
'She was just a beautiful soul. The most thoughtful, caring person. (Lydia) was a beautiful, beautiful big cousin. My daughter loved her to death,' Pavek said through tears. 'My mother-in-law has lost three grandchildren, with a daughter in a critical condition right now.'
It was reported the group were two blocks from home when the SUV Kari was driving spun out of control into the path of a truck on Wisconsin Highway 35, near Prescott.
The truck hit the back of the SUV, causing the vehicle to spin several times and crash.
Milberg, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and thrown 21 feet over the rail and down an embankment.
Lydia was strapped in the front seat and died on impact.
Milberg's son and her two nieces were on the backseat. All were rushed to hospital with Milberg.
Her son survived and Milberg recovered from a coma, but the little girls died.
The truck driver, 24-year-old Jose Mendoza, and his two passengers were not injured.
Mendoza was not ticketed.
Police found prescription Oxycodone in Milberg's purse.
A blood report later showed she had therapeutic levels of Oxycodone and a sedative known as Midazolam in her system at the time of the crash, according to The Star Tribune.
Michael Pavek said his sister-in-law often took the girls on outings and he had complete trust in her driving skills. 'Kari is absolutely, absolutely a beautiful, beautiful person,' he said. 'She would do anything for those kids, and did do anything for those kids. I often thanked her for who she was in my daughter's life.
'The loss I've incurred is one thing, but the loss that my wife and sisters-in-law is immense and it's still ongoing,' Michael Pavek said.
March 4, 2015
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