FHP: Mom charged in deadly DUI crash lied at scene

Mom found buckled in driver seat said she was passenger in SUV, troopers say

YULEE, Fla. – A Nassau County mother facing two counts of DUI manslaughter in the deaths of her 9-year-old and 8-year-old sons lied to first responders the night of the deadly October crash, according to a recently released police report.

Investigators said Tonya Capallia-Eason was driving with seven children in a Ford Explorer and had a blood alcohol level almost double the legal limit when she struck a utility pole Oct. 22 on Lonnie Crews Road.

Nicholai Capallia and Nehemiah Capallia-Bird were killed in the crash.

According to her arrest report from the Florida Highway Patrol, Capallia-Eason lied to investigators the night of the crash, saying that she "was a passenger in the vehicle when the driver began to lose control" and she "attempted to assist the driver when the vehicle struck a pole and rolled over multiple times."

Troopers said Capallia-Eason was found trapped upside down in the driver's seat of the SUV and they confirmed she was the driver, which is why she is now facing charges.

“In situations such as this, especially involving terrible tragedies like traffic homicides, all of our investigators want to get all of the information before they say the case is concluded,” FHP spokesman Sgt. Dylan Bryan said. “These charges are now DUI manslaughter. She has two counts of that obviously, because of the two deaths of the two young individuals involved.”

Also released in the arrest report were the toxicology results that show Capallia-Eason’s blood-alcohol level was 0.148 -- well above the legal limit.

Bryan said the results came back fairly quickly.

“When we request that type of evidence or analysis of evidence, (how quickly it comes back) really depends on the caseload of the crime lab,” Bryan said. “They have a very big job, a huge responsibility, so depending on their workload or their caseload ... it will depend on the duration of time it takes to get the results back.”

Bryan said Capallia-Eason has been cooperative with investigators during interviews, but declined to elaborate.

She's being held in the Nassau County Jail on $500,000 bond. She could face four to 15 years in prison for each charge.