BEAUFORT, CARTERET COUNTY - The prosecution has requested a modified bond for a local mother, accused of driving drunk in a wreck that critically injured her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.
During Tonya Gillikin's first appearance at the Carteret County Courthouse in Beaufort Monday morning, prosecutors said the 27-year-old suspect is a flight risk because she has family in West Virginia. As a result, the judge ordered Gillikin to remain within Eastern Carolina and wear an electronic monitor. In addition, she is not allowed to drive. Her next court appearance in this case is scheduled for May 10.
Gillikin, of Swansboro, turned herself in Friday night and was charged with two counts of felony serious injury by a motor vehicle, reckless driving, unsafe tire, and a child safety violation. According to police, Gillikin told them she "takes full responsibility for what happened." She was released on a $30,000 bond.
Gillikin was already charged with driving while impaired for the rollover wreck on April 3 that injured her four children. According to Cape Carteret Police, Gillikin was driving on Highway 24 at about 7 p.m., when she went left of center and hit a curb, flipping her Dodge Caravan four times. The minivan then came to rest at a sign.
Police said they believed alcohol was a factor. A blood test was taken at the scene and investigators said the results should be back in about a month.
Two of Gillikin's children were taken to Vidant Medical Center in critical condition: her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. As of Monday, April 8, one of them remains in critical condition, but the other has been taken out of the intensive care unit.
Gillikin's other two children in the van, her 15-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son, were taken to Carteret General Hospital, investigators said. Although their conditions were not released, Gillikin told police her kids are expected to make full recoveries.
Police said the 3-year-old boy in critical condition was ejected from his car seat and was trapped underneath the minivan. Highway Patrol troopers, Cape Carteret officers and pedestrians had to lift the vehicle to rescue the child.
"We lifted [the van] up on it's side, the trooper who was behind me picked up the baby and pulled him out. We had to watch what we were doing because there were two other kids in the van still," said Brian Mullennex, who witnessed the crash with his 8-year-old son.
"I grabbed my floor jack out of the shed and I ran over to the end of the road," said Robert Hunt, who also came to help. "There were a couple of people trying to push on the van."
According to investigators, the ejected 3-year-old boy was secured to his car seat, but the car seat was not secured to the van. Officer Josh Hayden said the child was still buckled to his car seat when he was rescued.
"I got him out of his car seat [and] tried to talk to him, calm him down, let him know everything's going to be all right," Officer Hayden said.
"I'm very impressed with the people that stopped and lended [sic] a hand without any do-regard to their own safety," Officer Hayden added. "We get paid to put our lives on the line and to help people like this. They just rushed in out the kindness of their heart and I'm very proud of them."
Gillikin's boyfriend, 32-year-old Nathan Henninger, was also in the van when it wrecked Wednesday night. He was treated at the hospital and released. But police arrested Henninger on Thursday and charged him with two misdemeanor counts of probation violations. Henninger's bond was set at $30,000.
According to the North Carolina Court System, Gillikin was previously charged with speeding and failure to secure passenger under 16 for an incident in Pender County. She's scheduled to appear in court on May 8 for that case.
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