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Community Reacts To Fatal Mitchell Crash

March 25, 2012, 10:20 PM by Hailey Higgins

Community Reacts To Fatal Mitchell Crash
MITCHELL, SD -

Instead of tucking in their little girl and saying goodnight a Mitchell family is getting ready for her funeral.
Authorities say 9-year-old Iszabella Morgan was the victim of a drunk driver who sped through town in the middle of the day and refused to stop for police.

Michael Sedlmeier, 46, is accused of leading officers on a 14-block chase that ended when his Ford Taurus collided with an SUV carrying Morgan and her friend's family Saturday.

The Mitchell man is charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular battery, aggravated eluding and his third DUI.

Flowers now lay at the intersection of Duff Street and 1st Avenue, as family friends come to honor the life of the 9-year-old girl they knew as "Bella."

"She's just very charismatic, energetic, very outspoken," Katie Christensen said. "She's one to just tell you how it is."

Art and Anita Streetman live nearby and were one of the first to come to the crash.

"We just heard a horrendous crunch, just metal and plastic (hitting) each other," Art Streetman said.

Streetman said Morgan and her friend McKenna Mentzel, 9, were thrown from the SUV.

"I got over there and the mother was holding her baby. She was frantic (saying) 'I need my husband. I cannot do it without my husband,'" Streetman said.

That mother was 34-year-old Misty Zilla. She was driving her family and her daughter's good friend to the Dakota Discovery Museum, according to friend LuAnn Yoder.

"Physically, I think she's doing pretty well. Emotionally, she's not doing well at all. And that's to be understood. She's got a lot of guilt," Yoder said.

Investigators say the SUV was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Five people inside were seriously hurt including Rose Hilleson, 63, Alexis Mentzel, 12, and eight-month-old Brielle Zilla.

Community members say the crash and Morgan's death could have been prevented.

"It never should have happened. This never should have happened. Bella should be with us right now. She should not be gone," JoAnne Bier said.

Friends say a stranger volunteered to pay for funeral expenses. Visitation is Wednesday, followed by a funeral on Thursday.  Friends say Morgan's mother plans to bury her in her dance costume.

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