HILLSBORO, Ore. - A driver who had a seizure, veered off the road and struck and killed a 17-year-old boy is facing a manslaughter charge.
Michelle Young, 41, pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday. A grand jury felt what happened was a crime because medication Young was taking at the time may have played a role in the crash.
Young had a seizure in September while behind the wheel and hit Max McGregor, who was walking home from school. The crash, which also sent Young's car into a fence and house, happened along Southwest 185th Avenue at Sandra Lane in Aloha.
Neighbor Sandie Abbot heard the crash from inside her house and immediately ran outside. She said the driver of the car was still in a seizure at that point.
"I knew she was seizing because I've had seizures in the past," Abbot said at the time. "I went up to the car and she was still pushing on the gas. I reached over her and turned the key off. I kept patting her arm, telling her it's going to be alright, what's your name ... stuff like that. Finally, about five minutes later, she came out of it."
Paramedics tried to save McGregor, but he died at the scene. He was just a block away from home.
According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Young had just been at the hospital that morning where she had been transported by ambulance for another seizure. A physician who treated her told her not to drive because she might have another one.
The sheriff's office said Young took a cab from the hospital to where her vehicle was parked and got behind the wheel just a few hours after leaving their care. That's when she suffered another seizure and crashed.
Young was later taken into custody after the District Attorney issued a warrant for her arrest. Earlier this week, a grand jury decided she should be charged with manslaughter. Young is being held at the Washington County Jail on $250,000 bail.
Max McGregor's mother, Peggy McGregor (pictured at right), feels the criminal charge against Young is just.
"Everything about this situation is impossible," she said. "There is nothing about this that is good or pleasing. But I'm gratified that the D.A. and the grand jury saw fit to hold her responsible for this."
"It's not just drugs or alcohol that can impair your ability to drive," she added. "When you have a medical condition and it impairs you, you are just as much a danger to other people."
Young was previously arrested on a DUII charge in 2008 (that's her 2008 mug shot on the right), in an incident that also involved her medications. Young's mother told KATU her daughter takes seizure medication, and pills for depression and anxiety.
"It just feels like if she'd listened to the advice of her doctor, my son wouldn't be dead," McGregor said.
McGregor has two other sons - one is a Marine serving overseas. She said out of her three boys, this is a death she absolutely did not see coming.
"My oldest son is in Afghanistan right now," she said. "Of course my thoughts tend toward that with him. I have a 21-year-old who is an adrenaline junkie. I'm always concerned is this going to be the crazy maniac activity where something happens. I never would have thought that having someone walk on the sidewalk was dangerous. And that was his last action."
About Max McGregor
Max (seen at right in a family photo) was a junior at Beaverton's Health and Science School, where he was focusing on engineering. His mother said he was particularly interested in aviation engineering.
Max also loved to draw and play video games, and family and friends said he was witty and compassionate.
"He always stood out, obviously because of his height, but he was such a sweet, genuine, loving, caring young man," Pastor Jeremy Stilwell said during a memorial that was held on Sept. 21, 2012 at Beaverton Foursquare Church.
"I'm really glad I got to meet him," Sierra, a fellow high school student, said at the memorial. "He was really caring and he was really funny. I loved his sense of humor and I'm just so sad that I can't be his friend anymore."
"Max was just so full of life," his mother said. "My house just seems empty. My life just kind of seems empty without him."
Peggy McGregor said she got one last hug from him the morning he died - only because Max had forgotten his bus pass.
"So I came down and let him in," she said. "And I said 'now that you got me out of bed, you have to hug me again.' So he kind of joked and gave me a big old hug, because he's a 17-year-old and reluctant to hug mom. I said 'have a good day' and that was the last time I saw him. I'm so grateful for that."