A Humboldt County woman who drove off a cliff along Highway 1 with her two young boys in her vehicle faces attempted murder charges after investigators determined it was an intentional act.
Athena Renee Doyle, 35, was arrested after investigators looked into the circumstances of the Oct. 3 crash that injured her and her boys, age 2 and 4.
The 1992 Isuzu Rodeo Doyle was driving went off the road in Westport, about 25 miles north of Fort Bragg, down an approximate 300-foot cliff. It came to rest upside down on its top, on the sands of Chadbourn Gulch/Blues Beach.
“Charges were basically filed when a determination was made it was an intentional act and not an accident,” Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten said Sunday.
Doyle, who lives in the small town of McKinleyville, just north of Arcata, was arrested on Friday and booked into Humboldt County Jail, although it was not announced until Sunday.
Mental health and issues of sanity appear certain to be a factor as the case goes forward.
The day before the crash, Doyle on her Facebook page posted “Illuminati is after my family and I. They have been threatening to kill us. I thought by taking down what I said before it would make them happy but they just want to kill my sons and I because of something we had no control of.”
On Aug. 13, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office issued an all-points bulletin for Doyle and her two sons, saying she might be suicidal. The bulletin was issued because Doyle’s mother was concerned her daughter was “having mental health issues and may harm herself and her children,” according to a sheriff’s press release.
But the next day, she called the Sheriff’s Office and arranged to meet with law enforcement officials after learning they were attempting to check her welfare.
“The deputy determined she was not having any mental health issues and she and the children were in good health,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “She told the deputy she was in the process of moving out (of) the area with her children and her mother was upset about that.”
A little over two weeks later, Doyle crashed her vehicle. It was unclear how long the mother and her children waited for help before someone noticed the vehicle on its roof on the beach.
A CHP officer spoke with Doyle at the scene and learned she may have intentionally crashed the SUV, officials said.
Doyle spent time in the hospital after the crash along with her two boys Nicodemus Doyle and Isaiah Hacket-Doyle.
Nickodemus, 2, was the most seriously injured and was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Oakland.
Both children were discharged from the hospital before their mother, Van Patten said.
Doyle’s identity and that of her boys was initially withheld following the crash, with sheriff’s officials citing the possibility of mental illness as a factor, thus triggering medical confidentiality requirements.
Following an investigation by sheriff’s detectives, the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for Doyle’s arrest in lieu of $500,000 bail.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.