If you happened to turn on the news last week, chances are that you saw some coverage of a DUI crash that led to the death of six people.
New mother, Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, of Fontana, was having a night out with her sister Maya Louise Culbreath, 24 of Rialto and her friend, Kristin Melissa Young, 21, of Chino on the night of February, 8th.
Authorities said that Culbreath was traveling in excess of 100 mph when she inappropriately merged onto the 60 freeway going the wrong way and right in to oncoming traffic. At 4:45 a.m. on February 9th, Culbreath’s 2013 Chevy Camaro collided head on into a 1998 Ford Explorer carrying a Los Angeles area family.
Both of Culbreath’s passengers were killed. The driver and passengers of the Ford Explorer were killed and later identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner as Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47, Leticia Ibarra, 42, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20, and Ester Delgado, an elderly woman believed to be at least 80 years old. The passenger of a third vehicle, which was behind the Explorer, was injured. Culbreath, herself, suffered serious injuries including a ruptured bladder and remains hospitalized in the jail ward at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.
The California Highway Patrol said officers had found “alcoholic beverage evidence” at the crash scene and arrested her for suspicion of felony drunken driving and felony manslaughter.
Culbreath was charged with six counts of second-degree murder when it was discovered that when Culbreath was 17, she was convicted of drunk driving in San Bernardino County. California DMV records show that restrictions on Culbreath’s license were lifted just days before the accident.
California law allows prosecutors to charge murder in fatal DUI accidents when a person has been previously convicted of a DUI. The theory is that when someone is convicted of a DUI in California, they are expressly advised of the dangers of driving drunk both by the court (via a “Watson” admonition) and through the mandatory DUI classes. When a person knows that they can kill someone while driving drunk, they “knowing acted with conscious disregard for that fact.”
If convicted, Culbreath faces possible life in prison. She is currently being held on a $6 million bail. It is unclear when Culbreath will be arraigned due to her injuries.