Woman allegedly crashed into ER entrance amid ‘mental episode’

Facing felony and misdemeanor charges

Posted 1/30/24

A Powell woman is facing multiple charges after she allegedly drove her car through the front entrance of the Powell Valley Healthcare emergency department early Saturday morning. Charging documents …

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Woman allegedly crashed into ER entrance amid ‘mental episode’

Facing felony and misdemeanor charges


A Powell woman is facing multiple charges after she allegedly drove her car through the front entrance of the Powell Valley Healthcare emergency department early Saturday morning. Charging documents allege that Nicole Suhr, 43, crashed into the building intentionally as part of what she described as a suicide attempt.

No one was injured in the incident, but police estimated that over $20,000 damage was dealt to the hospital building. 

The Park County Attorney’s Office has charged Suhr with felony counts of property destruction and attempted aggravated assault and battery, which alleges she tried using her car as a deadly weapon. Suhr also faces misdemeanor counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

“I just want to apologize,” Suhr said during her Monday afternoon appearance in Park County Circuit Court. However, before she could continue, Circuit Court Judge Joey Darrah cut Suhr off, warning that her comments could be used against her.

“It’s not going to do you any good at this point in time to make an apology or talk about the case,” Darrah said. He noted Suhr is facing “serious charges,” and could potentially go to prison. The judge set bail at $10,000 cash or surety.

Charging documents say it was around 3 a.m. Saturday that a front desk worker in the emergency room saw headlights speeding toward the entrance. Suhr’s gray 2004 Dodge then crashed through the two sets of glass doors.

The vehicle made it roughly 15 to 20 feet into the building before becoming stuck, according to an affidavit from Powell Police Officer Kevin Bennett.

The front desk worker told police that the car drove back and forth several times, and “she was afraid for her life as she was not sure what the driver was attempting to do,” Bennett wrote.

The car eventually backed out of the building and drove off.

Responding police officers didn’t find the vehicle in their search of the area, but they soon got a tip: A family member reported that Suhr was the one who’d crashed into the building and that she was in a church parking lot on Seventh Street. The relative described Suhr as having a “mental episode,” Bennett wrote.

Officers say they found Suhr around 3:30 a.m. in the parking lot. She was inside of her Dodge, with apparent pieces of the emergency room doors still on top of the car.

Suhr allegedly told police that she’d drank a bottle of wine and she was drinking beer from a cup at the time police approached her. Bennett said that Suhr declined to perform sobriety tests, telling the officer in stilted speech that, “I’m drunk.” Surh also indicated she was taking prescription medication for ADHD and depression.

Asked about the crash at the PVHC emergency room, “Nicole [Suhr] advised that she wanted to die and lined up the vehicle with the front door and drove into the building,” Bennett wrote in his affidavit. “Nicole advised that she would have continued driving further had the vehicle not got stuck.”

As for why she’d left the scene of the crash, Suhr allegedly said she didn’t know.

“When trying to ask Nicole [Suhr] more questions she would reply with, she knew exactly what she was doing and had a clear mind of doing so,” Bennett added. “Nicole was very relaxed about the encounter and would laugh about it at some points, making jokes about herself and the damage to her vehicle.”

Suhr was taken back to Powell Valley Healthcare and checked out by medical staff before being taken to Cody and booked into the Park County Detention Center.

Interim Police Chief Matt McCaslin called it “definitely an amazing thing that no one was hurt.” Although the hospital “has people coming and going all times of the night,” he said the emergency room lobby was empty at the time of the crash.

“It was essentially but for the grace of God that nobody was injured,” Deputy Park County Attorney Laura Newton argued at Monday’s hearing.

Citing the severity of the charges, and a general reticence toward surety bonds, Newton recommended that Suhr’s bail be set at $7,500 cash only.

Darrah initially adopted the prosecutor’s recommendation, but revised the figure to $10,000 cash or surety after Suhr said there was “no way” she could come with $7,500. Traditionally, defendants in Park County have been able to hire bondsmen by paying a nonrefundable 10% fee — such as paying $1,000 for a $10,000 surety bond. However, following an increase of bond revocations and forfeitures, Darrah said bondsmen are now charging 20%. That suggests Suhr would need to pay at least $2,000 to go free.

If she is released, Suhr will need to follow a series of conditions that include following the law, driving only with a valid license and not drinking any alcohol. Darrah made a point of warning Suhr not to mix alcohol with any medical prescriptions.

“There’s a big public safety issue here,” he said of the case.

Suhr remained in jail Monday afternoon, though she did not appear on the Park County Detention Center’s online inmate roster. Her absence from the public list, combined with the affidavit’s references to suicidal ideation and a mental health episode, indicate authorities have placed a so-called Title 25 hold on Suhr. Those holds are used when a person is believed to pose a threat to themselves or others as a result of mental illness.

A preliminary hearing in the criminal case — where Darrah will determine if there’s enough evidence for the case to proceed toward a trial in Park County District Court — is tentatively set for Feb. 7.


ER entrance temporarily moved at PVHC

With Powell Valley Healthcare’s emergency room door destroyed in a Saturday morning crash, patients and visitors are being asked to temporarily use a different set of doors.

As of Monday, PVHC officials were directing people to enter the emergency department through the café door that’s located just west of the ER. 

“We are trying to make it so people don’t have to walk all the way down the hall from the main entrance,” explained PVHC spokesman Jim Cannon.

Signs posted around the entrance direct people where to go.