Marcus Larson/News-Register
Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry gives a press conference on the investigation into Meighan Cordie s death with Sheriff Tim Svenson, left, and Sheriff’s Office detective Will Lavish, right.
Marcus Larson/News-Register Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry gives a press conference on the investigation into Meighan Cordie's death with Sheriff Tim Svenson, left, and Sheriff’s Office detective Will Lavish, right.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##
Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry shows crime scene photos of where Meighan Cordie s body was found.
Marcus Larson/News-Register## Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry shows crime scene photos of where Meighan Cordie's body was found.
By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Mother charged, but Cordie death ruled an accident

Updated 9/28 9:45 a.m.

Jennifer Weathers has been charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants and recklessly endangering another person in connection with the death of her 27-year-old daughter, Meighan Cordie, Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said Thursday evening.

Weathers, a Washington County resident, is tentatively scheduled to be arraigned on the charges at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in circuit court. She was cited but not taken into custody.

Yet, Cordie’s death has been ruled accidental. 

According to Berry, Cordie sustained two broken vertebrae and an aortic separation after either accidentally or purposefully exiting a moving vehicle -- being driven by Weathers -- and colliding with a guardrail. The aortic injury resulted in a loss of blood pressure and Cordie “bleeding out,” the district attorney said.

Berry left no doubt the case was made all the more difficult to investigate because of Weathers’ unwillingness to fully cooperate.

"Currently, there are not applicable statutes that (Weathers) could be charged with, given the information we would be able to present to a judge or jury," Sheriff's Office Capt. Chris Ray said Friday morning, discussing anger expressed by many on social media regarding Berry's findings.

The Yamhill County Major Crimes Response team deliberated over the Oregon Revised Statutes for some time and spoke at length with Berry regarding the issue, according to Ray.

"I believe at the root of all this, what folks are having the most difficult time with, me included, is that it simply doesn't seem fair," Ray said. "And it's not."

He said it's disappointing to see on social media people insinuate that Berry or investigators who had to recover Cordie's body and investigate "this tragic event" are failing her as a victim.

"That's simply not true," Ray said. "I have seen people post on social media that Mrs. Weathers should be charged with manslaughter; The elements for manslaughter require that a criminal homicide take place, which we do not have in this case.

"I've heard she should be charged with 'hit-and-run' - fail to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons. This requires the vehicle be involved in an accident, which did not occur."

Berry gave an account of the events of Saturday, Aug. 18, when Cordie and her mother attended a wedding and reception on Grand Island:

About 10:30 that evening, the two argued and a physical altercation also ensued in the vehicle that also contained Cordie’s 3 1/2-year-old daughter. Investigators were told by Weathers that Cordie got out of the vehicle and left on foot without her phone, shoes and purse.

They were told she left the vehicle at the intersection of Southeast Grand Island Road and Upper/Lower Island Road, 9 1/2 miles from the location where Cordie’s body was found, and it was determined as part of the investigation she could not have walked that that distance.

The investigation, in fact, determined Cordie was in the car, sitting in a rear passenger seat of the vehicle driven by her mother when she either accidentally opened the door along the off/on-ramp leading from Highway 18 to 221 - Wallace Road - just north of Dayton and fell out and under the guard rail, or she purposely jumped from the car and ended up down the embankment.

Her injuries were consistent with hitting a stationary object at a high rate of speed, and those objects would have been two support pillars. It’s believed her back hit one of them and then her head struck another, before her body tumbled down the embankment. She died on impact.

“We do not know all that happened,” Berry said. “We do know she left the vehicle a second time and was killed instantly. There is no evidence of criminal conduct (beyond the DUII and recklessly endangering charges), and as a result, it’s been ruled an accidental death. It’s a tragic case with a lot of incomplete evidence.”

Weathers took one polygraph examination Tuesday, Aug. 21, and the results were inconclusive. She told the examiner she had taken a muscle relaxant the night before the exam. She was scheduled to take a second exam, but never did, and has been uncooperative with authorities ever since, according to Berry.

A clump of hair was found in the vehicle, which Berry said they believe was Weather’s, but they have not completed testing to verify.

"I have heard people asking why we don't compel her (Weathers) to tell us the truth," Ray said. "Simply put, it's called the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects a citizen from being compelled to be a witness against him/herself." 

Friends and relatives combed the area during the initial search. Relatives reported her missing the following day when they still had not heard from her.
The sheriff’s office launched an expansive air and ground search on Grand Island and the surrounding area until the time her body was found.

Joggers discovered Cordie’s body over the steep embankment about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23.

She was initially identified based on physical description and clothing.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office previously determined Cordie was the victim of blunt force trauma. 

 

Comments

myopinion

Something is still just not right with this. If they can't charge her with the death, then I say stack misdemeanors on her left and right. Start with filing a false police report, charge her for man hours of the search, when she knew exactly where her daughter was! My guess is they she will beat the DUI charge, as they don't know what her exact BAC was at the time driving.

Bufordthe1st

So sad...just so sad. I hope someone besides this "Mother" has Meghan's daughter to love and cherish for the rest of their life. She obviously does not know how to take care of her own. This is just so sad.

Java

This is very sad and heartbreaking- and it is also an outrage. I don't understand why other charges have not been filed or how it was ok for this person to lie- accident or not. I totally agree with you, myopinion, on potential charges to bring forward. I'm hoping there's something else up the DA's sleeve?

MBert70

Yes, what myopinion said!!! There is something so not right with this outcome, at this point.

Kat758

I totally agree with all of you. And I always felt the mother was lying about something.

tagup

It’s pretty hard to understand how a mother could drive away from the scene and then lie about the circumstances, if it truly were an accident.........even if there isn’t enough evidence for a conviction, any average person can assume some foul play took place.....

Lulu

What was Weathers doing during the extensive search and rescue operation?
Laughing?

T.W.S.

certainly wanton cruel indifference and illicit deception (not to mention uncooperation) on the mother's part, sad tragedy

MacBrat

I would love to know what was going through that woman's mind when she saw her daughter leave a moving vehicle. Seriously, who doesn't stop and make sure their child - regardless of the child's age - is ok? As a mom myself to a gaggle of kids (some grown, some still growing), if one of my children exited a moving vehicle while I was driving, I would stop IMMEDIATELY! No matter how upset a parent can be with their child from time to time, there is absolutely no excuse not to make sure your child is safe, healthy, and ALIVE. There must be something, maybe at the federal level if not at the state level. There has to have been a ruling somewhere in this country that can be used as a premise for prosecuting this woman for negligent homicide or something similar. She was negligent and it resulted in the death of another person. Come on, Brad. Dig in further and bring this woman to justice!

Charlene

Totally agree with MacBrat. This women needs to pay for her actions.She also needs to be given no leeway on the DUI. And yes her grandchild should be awarded custody to her grandpa.. Grandma is not fit to have any children in her possession. Such a sad tragedy!!

myopinion

Response to where granddaughter is living, I believe she is with her daddy. She is not with 'Grandma' (air quotes = pure sarcasm!) or grandpa. I hope she is getting help. Poor baby. :(

Shorty

Both women were at a wedding and reception prior to getting in the car. The mother is being charged with dui. It isn’t (in my mind) a huge stretch of the imagination to assume the daughter was drunk too. I mean she pulled a hunk of her mother’s hair out. I suspect neither one was thinking clearly. And then there is the 31/2 year old witnessing all of it. Sad

Raysme1

If they do not have field sobriety tests, a breathalyzer test or blood alcohol content results, and no police officer saw her driving intoxicated, I would be willing to bet she beats the DUII charge, which likely means she will beat the Reckless Endangerment charge as well. Jury's want to see test results to convict.

tagup

Agreed...and the court can't really impose harsher punishment because they could not convict on a different charge...

T.W.S.

This may be a stretch, but see this story: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/woman-jumps-out-uber-window-after-alleged-kidnapping-attempt-n912021

Uber driver intended to take passenger to hospital against her wishes, she jumps (yes, she survives to tell the tale)...

What if the victim in this case wanted to leave with her child because her mother was driving drunk and feared for her and her child's life; and in an attempt to open the door she fell out. It is a stretch but if argued well...kidnapping and false imprisonment could be laid out as a possible crime(s). Not impossible, theoretical, but plausible.