An Owatonna woman is facing multiple felony charges after she allegedly caused a five-vehicle crash in July outside Hy-Vee, resulting in two people being seriously injured.
Jessica Faye Higgs-Jones was charged by summons in Steele County District Court with two counts of felony criminal vehicular operation, two gross misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operations and one misdemeanor count of careless driving. The charges stem from an incident that took place just before 10 a.m. on July 17.
According to the criminal complaint, Owatonna police were dispatched to a multi-vehicle crash on S. Cedar Avenue and SW 18th Street where at least one person was trapped. Officers determined Vehicle 1, driven by Higgs-Jones, was speeding north on Cedar and crashed into the rear end of Vehicle 2, setting off a chain reaction, hitting Vehicle 3 and Vehicle 4. Vehicle 1 then proceeded to accelerate forward, crashing into Vehicle 5 and pushing it into the intersection before coming to a stop, according to the report.
Officers found the occupants of Vehicle 2 still inside the vehicle with the airbags deployed. Mayo Ambulance arrived at the scene and transported both occupants to the Owatonna Hospital. The male occupant was later airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester and was treated for a concussion, head trauma, abrasions to the head that had to be glued. According to court documents, he also had pain in the left side, right arm pain and impaired vision from the crash. The female occupant was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital by ambulance and treated for five broken ribs, a shattered ankle and a brain bleed.
Officers reportedly made contact with Higgs-Jones, who was still in her vehicle with a C-Collar on provided by Mayo EMS. She allegedly told officers she did not know what happened and couldn’t remember anything. She was transported to the Owatonna Hospital, where officers continued to get an additional statement from her. Higgs-Jones reportedly told police she has epileptic seizures, and that she did not remember anything that happened that morning after she turned onto Cedar.
No other injuries that had to be treated were reported.
The Owatonna Police Department obtained records from the Minnesota Department of Vehicle Services in August to see if Higgs-Jones had reported her seizures; court records show the DVS did not have any medical documents or reports of seizures attached to her driving record.
In September, a search warrant for Higgs-Jones’ medical records was executed and reportedly showed she was diagnosed in 2018 with a condition that causes seizures. A neurology visit on June 6, 2022, showed Higgs-Jones reported having two seizures earlier in the year, the most recent at the end of May. The neurologist told Higgs-Jones she is not legally entitled to drive for three months after a seizure, and Higgs-Jones allegedly indicated that she was not driving.
Higgs-Jones’ next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 5.