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Driver enters plea in triple fatal wreck
0304 Rachel Conley
Rachel Conley

An Effingham County teenager charged in a September 2014 accident that claimed the lives of three people has pled guilty in Effingham County State Court.

Rachel Conley received 24 months probation and a fine last Tuesday from State Court Judge Ronnie Thompson after she entered an Alford plea for her role in an accident that eventually killed Megan Kessler, 30, of Rincon, Marlys Strempke, 54, of Allenhurst, and another Effingham County teenager, Karlie Miles.

Conley received 12 months probation for one count of vehicular homicide and 12 months to serve consecutively on the second count. Her plea on the third count led to 12 months probation to serve concurrently to count one.

Her charges on failure to exercise due care and improper passing were not prosecuted.

Conley originally entered a not guilty plea April 8 and waived arraignment. She posted a $3,500 bond Feb. 26. A notice for the pre-trial calendar came back as not deliverable as addressed.

Conley was the driver of a Ford Taurus that was behind a pickup truck Miles was driving on Old Augusta Road outside of Rincon, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Miles went into the northbound lane to pass Miles.

As truck pulling a trailer approached, Conley tried to swerve back into the southbound lane. However, her car sideswiped Miles’ truck, sending it into the path of Kessler’s vehicle in the northbound lane.

Kessler, a special education teacher at Effingham County High School, and Strempke, Kessler’s mother, died at the scene. Miles died three days later.

Investigators do not believe alcohol or drugs contributed to the crash. A blood sample was not taken from Conley because “there was no reason to believe she was under the influence of anything,” State Patrol Senior Trooper Roger Cason said at the time.

Conley was hurt in the wreck and a passenger in Miles’ truck was seriously injured.

Miles’ parents, James Miles and Theresa Miles, filed a wrongful death suit against Conley in Chatham County State Court in December 2014. The case was moved to Effingham County State Court in June.

The plaintiffs charge that Conley was negligent through her failure to maintain the lane and for attempting an improper pass. In her response to the suit, Conley said she was trying to pass Miles, but Miles sped up. Conley admitted to the manner of the accident but denied any responsibility.

The suit seeks compensation for the expected 60 years Karlie Miles would have lived, plus attorney’s fees, medical, funeral and burial expenses.