Kelli Anderson is charged in a June 9 crash that killed Kiana Burns, but police say she has been involved in several other crashes in the last three years.
INDIANAPOLIS — The woman involved in two fatal crashes in three weeks remains in jail after her initial court appearance Tuesday morning for reckless homicide.
Kelli Anderson told the judge she can’t afford bail. She was appointed a public defender and is not allowed to drive if she is released before her trial.
Denise Gatling wanted to be in court for her daughter, Kiana Burns. Gatling cannot understand how Anderson still held a driver’s license when she started an eight-car crash at 52nd Street and Keystone Avenue on June 9 that killed Burns, a mother of four children. Court records say Anderson was driving a white Lincoln SUV that ran into the back of Kianna Burns’ stopped Pontiac G6 at almost 69 miles an hour.
Just three weeks before, Anderson’s car jumped a curb at 49th and Meridian streets, hitting and killing Dr. Brian Dillman, a Franciscan Health emergency room physician, as he jogged on the sidewalk on May 19.
Anderson, 55, is not charged in the crash that killed Dillman. But investigators say that she was told by doctors after that crash that she was a high risk to herself and others and should not drive for six months until cleared by a neurologist. Court records say that Anderson was instructed not to work at heights, to take showers instead of baths, with no swimming, operating heavy machinery, or lifting close to open flames. Anderson told doctors she understood.
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Allegedly ignoring those instructions led to the criminal charges in the most recent fatal crash, which involved eight cars. Anderson is charged with reckless homicide, which carries a six-year maximum sentence. She also faces six counts of criminal recklessness, with a maximum sentence of 180 days for each count.
“Driving is a privilege,” said Gatling. “It’s not a right. And so, if you’re abusing that privilege and you’re not doing what you need to do to be a responsible driver on the road, and you’re not taking other drivers’ safety into consideration, you shouldn’t have that right.”
Investigators found Anderson at fault in five more crashes in Marion County in just the past three years:
- Aug. 3, 2019 – Anderson was driving north at 6500 N. Meridian Street when she veered off the side of the road, flipping her black Saturn Outlook in a ditch. When officers talked with Anderson, she said she is epileptic and possibly had a seizure because she did not know what happened.
- Feb. 20, 2020 – Anderson allegedly ran a stop for a stop sign going south on Dean Road at 79th Street and crashed into another car.
- March 9, 2021 – Anderson was driving south on Fall Creek Parkway near the Indiana State Fairgrounds entrance when she ran into the back of another moving vehicle.
- Sept. 2, 2021 – Anderson was traveling south on Allisonville Road when she struck the rear of the car in front of her. The crash caused the other vehicle to spin out and Anderson to veer off the roadway and hit a fire hydrant. She told officers she did not know she was involved in an accident and did not know she hit anyone.
- May 2, 2022 – Anderson was driving south on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street when she veered off the road and struck a light pole. She told officers another car stopped abruptly in front of her and in order to avoid the other vehicle she turned the car left and ran off the east side of the road along the Crown Hill Cemetery brick fence.
Police never ticketed Anderson for a traffic violation in any of those previous non-fatal crashes.
Her trial for the most recent crash, that killed Kiana Burns, is set for Sept. 1.
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Gatling is left caring for four grandchildren, who range in age from 8 months to 8 years old, left without their mother.
“I’m really coming to terms with everything that we’re finding out and the fact that this was 100% preventable and should never have happened in the first place,” she said.