Fatal wreck on Saturday

May. 21, 2013 @ 06:03 PM

A Monroe woman died May 18 after a morning wreck involving an impaired driver with a history of underage drinking and reckless driving.

Karen Lee Roess, 74, of 2029 Saye Brook Drive, Monroe, died on the way to the hospital after a two vehicle wreck on Doster Road around 11:15 a.m. 

Roess was a passenger in a Honda Pilot, which was headed east on Doster Road and was being driven by her husband William Roess, at the time of the wreck, First Sgt. M.R. Leach of the North Carolina Highway Patrol said.

Christopher Michael Outen, 25, of 6307 Old Waxhaw Monroe Road, Waxhaw, was traveling west in a Toyota 4Runner on the road, which later collided with the Honda Pilot. Karen Roess died on the way to Carolinas Medical Center as a result of her injuries while her husband, William Roess, received non-life threatening injuries as a result of the incident, Leach said.

As a result of the wreck, Outen has been charged with driving while impaired, involuntary manslaughter and felony death by motor vehicle.

According to court documents, Outen has charges dating from 2006-2008 that include reckless driving, driving after consuming under 21, underage drinking, and driving while impaired. 

A reckless driving charge and driving after consuming under 21 charge Outen received in 2006 were both dismissed. An underage drinking charge, a driving while impaired charge and drive after consuming under 21 charge from 2007 were also later dismissed, according to court documents.

Also in 2007, Outen was charged with possess marijuana up to 1/2 oz, which was dismissed as well. In 2008 he was charged with underage possession of alcohol in Mecklenburg County, which he paid the fine for by mail, according to court documents.

"Our troopers work very hard to remove impaired drivers from the road," Leach said.

It's up to the courts what they choose to do, he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Roess family was working on finalizing funeral arrangements for Karen Roess, Nancy Brightwell, Roess' daughter, said.

Brightwell describes her mother as very full of life and creative.

"Just very full of life, full of creativity. She was legally blind but she never let that stop her from doing the things that she wanted to do," Brightwell said.

Her mother was a very energetic person and liked to garden, paint and create Bonsai sculptures, she said.

Attempts to contact the District Attorney's Office in reference to Outen's past charges and the dismissals were not returned as of press time.