NEWPORT — Authorities serving a warrant earlier this week arrested a Salem woman who the Oregon State Police say was driving a pickup truck involved in a single-vehicle accident Jan. 3 on Highway 20 in Lincoln County that killed a Sweet Home man.
Law enforcement apprehended Chantell Leann Neff and transported her Monday to the Lincoln County Jail in Newport. That came after a grand jury handed down a secret indictment of the 29-year-old on four felony charges, including second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, and two misdemeanors.
During Neff’s initial appearance Wednesday before Judge Amanda Benjamin in Lincoln County Circuit Court in Newport, Neff pleaded not guilty to all charges levied against her. In addition to manslaughter and homicide, she’s charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, DUII-alcohol and reckless driving.
As of Thursday morning, Neff remained in custody of Lincoln County Jail, held on $250,000 bond. She’s next expected to appear May 17 in court for an early-resolution conference.
According to OSP reports, 20-year-old Tanner James Jewell was a front-seat passenger in a silver Dodge Dakota pickup truck traveling east at about 11:45 p.m. on Jan. 3 on Highway 20 at about milepost 33 near the Burnt Woods community. OSP says the driver of the Dodge lost control of the pickup truck, and it struck the eastbound guardrail.
The pickup truck reportedly continued across the highway, traveled up an embankment off the northbound shoulder and crashed into a tree. Jewell was pronounced dead at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.
OSP reports say that prior to being transported by ambulance to Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis for non-life threatening injuries, Neff told law enforcement that she had also been a passenger in the pickup truck, and that a man whom she knew only by his first name had been driving.
Authorities reported no other suspected occupants of the vehicle were found following an intensive search of the area. Evidence from the scene revealed no indication that another occupant was ejected from the vehicle.
The pickup truck was removed from the scene by Coast Towing and transported to the Oregon State Police office in Newport for examination. Jewell’s body was recovered by Bateman Funeral Home of Newport.
In its initial investigation of the accident, OSP was assisted by personnel from the Toledo Fire Department, Philomath Fire Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Department of Transportation Maintenance, ODOT Incident Response, Pacific West Ambulance, Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office and Lincoln County Medical Examiner’s Office.
According to Oregon court records, Neff pleaded guilty in May 2020 in Clackamas County to methamphetamine possession, first-degree burglary and mail theft. She pleaded guilty to operating as motor vehicle without driving privileges in 2016 in Crook County.