Mother charged in seaside crash that injured her kids
MENDOCINO COUNTY – On Friday, October 3, it was sunny and hot – unseasonably so as temperatures in Mendocino County were approaching 100 degrees for a few days that week. That morning, Athena Renee Doyle of McKinleyville, a town near Eureka and over 100 miles north, was driving with her two small boys, aged four and two, along Highway 1 north of Fort Bragg.
As Highway 1, also known as Shoreline Highway, reaches Chadbourn Gulch and Blues Beach, the road curves dramatically to the right before circling back to the coast around the beach below. Doyle, driving a 1992 Isuzu Rodeo, did not make the turn, and her car tumbled down the 300 foot embankment to the sands below, resting on its roof. Doyle and her two sons were all seriously injured in the accident, but the highway was empty, and no one witnessed the crash.
The car sat on the beach for several hours, until around noontime a passing motorist noticed it there. The call was made, and a California Highway Patrol officer responded to the scene. Emergency medical personnel were called, and the Mendocino Sheriff’s office was summoned as well to investigate the incident. All three occupants of the car were airlifted for treatment. The CHP officer, however, had spoken with Doyle first, and gathered from her that the crash may have been intentional.
Sheriff’s detectives took over the investigation into the crash. Doyle’s recent history no doubt entered into the investigation. On Friday, August 13, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office had issued a “be-on-the-lookout” alert for Doyle. Her mother had contacted them, saying that Doyle had left her apartment in Eureka with the two boys, identified as Isiah Hacket-Doyle, 4, and Nicodemus Doyle, 2. She was worried that her daughter was having “mental health issues” and that she may harm the children and herself.
The next morning, however, Athena Doyle, aware that she was being looked for, contacted the Sheriff’s Office and said she was in Eureka and would be happy to meet with a representative. She met up with a deputy just before noon at Vista Point on Humboldt Hill, overlooking Humboldt Bay and the coastal National Wildlife Refuge. She explained to the deputy that she was moving out of the area with her kids, and that her mother was very upset about that. The deputy determined that she was not having any mental health issues, and that she and the children were fine, according to the Humboldt Sheriff’s office. The matter was then dropped.
She had apparently moved to McKinleyville after leaving her mother’s Eureka apartment. Her activities of the next two months were not reported, but on October 2, they day before the accident, she posted a rather puzzling message on her Facebook page, which may point to her state of mind. “Illuminati is after my family and I. They have been threatening to kill us. I thought by taking down what I said before it would make them happy but they just want to kill my sons and I because of something we had no control of. They started a show about me and it wasn’t enough now they are going to kill me and my family (all of them). So please watch out for my brother and work to get them the justice they deserve for killing people who did nothing to them. Thanks.” Nothing else remains on her page.
In Mendocino County, Sheriff’s detectives continued their investigation, and brought the case to the District Attorney. On October 28 they issued a felony arrest warrant for her on two counts of attempted murder, on the belief that Doyle had intentionally driven her car off the road with the intent to kill her sons and herself. On Friday, October 31, Doyle was located in Humboldt County and booked pending extradition. She was sent to Mendocino County Jail for booking Monday, and is being held pending $500,000 bail.