A first-degree manslaughter charge has been filed against a 21-year-old Wilson woman who was behind the wheel of a boat involved in a drunk-driving crash on Lake Murray that claimed the life of an Ardmore man June 1.


A first-degree manslaughter charge has been filed against a 21-year-old Wilson woman who was behind the wheel of a boat involved in a drunk-driving crash on Lake Murray that claimed the life of Billy Miller, 32, on June 1.


District Attorney Craig Ladd said his office filed the formal charge against Ashley Tolbert in Love County District Court Wednesday. Tolbert, who is represented by Ardmore attorney Sam Buck, has been summoned to make an initial appearance in court Sept. 5.


The charge alleges Tolbert killed Miller, “... without a design to effect death while...engaged in the misdemeanor of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol.”


Ladd said the decision on whether to file charges against Tolbert had been delayed until his office received the state’s blood alcohol analysis.


“Our office received the lab report that indicated a blood alcohol level greater than 0.10 — she was under the influence,” he said.


Under Oklahoma law, driving under the influence on the water and driving under the influence on land are not the same. On water, blood alcohol levels of 0.10 or more is the marker for drunk driving. On land drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or above are considered to be driving drunk.


The crash occurred about 11:45 p.m. June 1, when Tolbert and three passengers including Miller, left a Lake Murray marina in a 2004 Baja Outlaw boat, heading for a cove located approximately 1/4 mile west of Tucker Tower. Tolbert apparently failed to see a peninsula. The boat struck the rocks, causing it to become airborne. The boat rotated clockwise a complete revolution and landed bottom down on the rocks. All four people were ejected. Miller, Tolbert and Savanah Janea Burch, 22, Wilson, were pinned under the boat. The third passenger, identified as Christopher Dale Auten, 37, Ardmore, was thrown into nearby trees.


Miller died at a Marietta hospital a short time after the accident occurred. Tolbert was hospitalized at Ardmore with head and trunk injuries. Burch was treated and released from an Ardmore medical facility and Auten refused medical treatment.


First degree manslaughter is a felony offense. If convicted Tolbert faces a prison term of four years to life.


Marsha Miller 221-6529
marsha.miller@ardmoreite.com