James Amman and his pregnant wife Ariel Adams were involved in a car accident Dec. 26 in Brevard County, Florida. Adams later passed away.
LEAH VOSS/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The Fort Pierce man who was driving an SUV involved in a fatal crash on Interstate 95 the day after Christmas has been charged in the deaths of his wife and their unborn child, according to an arrest report.
James Amman, 28, of the 1900 block of North Third Street, was arrested Aug. 11 by St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies on a warrant out of Brevard County charging him with two counts of vehicular homicide, according to the report. His wife, Ariel Adams, was 26 weeks pregnant at the time of the crash.
The couple had been married only nine days and just celebrated their first Christmas in their new home in Fort Pierce with Adams’ children, 7-year-old Ben and 3-year-old Izzy, and Amman’s son, 9-year-old J.J.
Amman also was cited with improperly changing lanes by pulling out in front of a vehicle, following too closely and driving too fast for the conditions at the time, according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash investigation report completed May 31.
Although the traffic citations aren’t criminal, according to state law, the violations combined with the deaths are why he was criminally charged in the crash.
On July 28, the state filed the vehicular homicide charges against Amman, according to recently released court documents.
About 5:50 p.m. Dec. 26, Amman was driving a GMC SUV southbound on I-95 in the center lane just south of U.S. 192 with Adams in the front passenger seat. They were returning home after dropping off Izzy in Georgia with Adams’ ex-husband.
Amman changed lanes to the left lane, passed several vehicles in the center lane and “entered the inside edge line” of I-95, according to court documents. He then “took evasive action” to the right and returned to the center lane in the path of a Chevrolet truck.
A chain reaction followed. The SUV hit a Chevrolet truck, which hit a Ford truck hauling a boat on a trailer.
The SUV spun clockwise as it crossed the right outside traffic lane and went into the grass shoulder, overturned and hit fences and trees before it stopped, partially in northbound Brandywine Lane and partially on the grass shoulder of the road.
Adams, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected while the SUV was turning over. She was found in the road southwest of where the vehicle stopped.
The Chevrolet truck spun counterclockwise and went airborne, hit fences and trees, then stopped in the grass near the SUV.
The Ford truck spun clockwise and counterclockwise as it went off the road and hit a light pole before stopping in grass. Its boat trailer disengaged, went south and came to a rest in the grass.
Adams was flown to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, where she and her fetus, which was determined by a medical examiner to be viable, were pronounced dead at 7:10 p.m., according to court documents. No one else was injured in the crash.
Based on witness interviews and physical evidence, investigators found Amman was driving at an average speed of 82 mph, including when he was going around a curve in the road. The speed limit on I-95 is 70 mph.
They determined Amman was tailgating a vehicle and weaving in an attempt to pass a vehicle in the center lane, according to court documents.
When he passed the vehicle, he sped up quickly and cut to the right to pass another vehicle and then swerved to the left, investigators found.
The SUV went into the median before Amman lost control and hit two vehicles. All three went over an embankment.
Adams’ ex-husband, Zachary Shane Adams, said Amman called him the day after the crash. Amman said he heard a noise, then lost control of the vehicle. At a later date, the ex-husband told investigators, Amman said he hit something in the road, causing him to lose control.
Three days after the crash, Amman told TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers he felt like the SUV took a hard right turn, but he didn’t know what happened next in the crash.
“Time just flew,” he said. “It’s hard to explain how it even happened.”
Amman was released from the St. Lucie County Jail the day after he was arrested on a $40,000 bail, according to sheriff’s officials.
He declined to comment on his arrest. It’s unknown when his next court date will be.
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