Woman who escaped to Florida after deadly crash, now in jail

HEATHER TAPIA FOR WEB0_1554687838745.jpg.jpg

UPDATE: April 07, 2019 — Heather Tapia has been arrested, and is now being held in the Santa Rosa County Jail in Milton, Florida on the charge of being an out-of-state fugitive.

October 10, 2019 — It’s been more than six months since a woman was killed in a drunk driving crash in northeast Columbus, and police are asking for the public’s help finding the woman who was allegedly responsible and who has eight prior drunk driving convictions.

The crash happened around 3:23 a.m. on July 14, 2018, at the intersection of Morse Road and Cleveland Avenue. According to police, a Dodge Caravan, operated by Christina Marshall, was traveling east on Morse Road toward the intersection with Cleveland Avenue. At the same time, a Saturn SI, driven by 47-year-old Heather Tapia, was traveling west on Morse Road, heading for Cleveland Avenue.

Investigators say Tapia tried to turn left into the southbound lanes of Cleveland Avenue in front of the oncoming van. Marshall’s van struck the passenger side of the car. The Saturn came to a rest just southwest of the intersection.

The passenger in the front seat of the Saturn, later identified as 39-year-old Audrey Gartin, was transported in critical condition to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead.

In September, Tapia was indicted on aggravated vehicular homicide charges, but she has since fled prosecution. At the time of the crash, Tapia’s BAC level was 0.138 grams, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.

“This woman had only been out of prison for several months from her last OVI conviction, and was currently under a five-year suspension of her driver’s license, without even limited driving privileges, yet she made the decision once again to drive while intoxicated,” O’Brien said in a press release.

Tapia has also appeared on the United States Marshals Service’s list of most-wanted fugitives in central Ohio, but she remains at large. Tapia is a white female with green eyes and blond hair. She is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs approximately 140 pounds.

Gartin’s family is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to Tapia’s arrest. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is urged to contact Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS(8477). You can also submit a tip online at www.stopcrime.org or through the free P3 Tips mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices.

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