Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Didn't get a chance to finish your story? Purchase a day pass digital subscription and you'll receive unlimited online access for one day (24 hours). You will have immediate access upon completion of your purchase.


Distracted driving led to the 2018 hit-and-run accident that caused the death of Maynard 14-year-old Kaiden Estling, according to the charging document filed in Fayette County District Court on Thursday, June 25.

Kelli Jo Michael, 26, of Des Moines, was arrested on Friday and transported from her home to the Fayette County Jail. She is charged with vehicular homicide, a Class C felony, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class D felony. Her arraignment is scheduled for 11 a.m. July 20, at the Fayette County Courthouse. Bail was set at $50,000 cash only.

The charges are the result of a two-year investigation into the June 28, 2018, accident in which a vehicle struck the moped being driven by Kaiden southbound along Highway 150 two and one-half miles south of Fayette. The driver fled the scene. Despite rescue personnel’s efforts, Kaiden was pronounced dead at the scene.

In her application for a court-appointed attorney, Michael said she works for a bank and a staffing firm. The court appointed attorney Greg Schiller to represent her.

In the charging document filed by Assistant Fayette County Attorney Nathan James Lien and Assistant State Attorney General Douglas D. Hammerand, the prosecutors accuse Michael of reckless driving “through the use of a hand-held electronic communication device to write, send or view an electronic message,” which resulted in the unintentional death of Kaiden.

They also say Michael did not immediately stop her vehicle at or near the scene and remain there in accordance with state law.

A list of 46 witnesses filed by the prosecution includes medical and law enforcement personnel from Fayette and Winneshiek Counties, the state, Manchester and Waterloo. It also includes employees of Maple Crest Manor in Fayette, Scott Pharmacy in Fayette and Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, as well as 24 other individuals.