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Driver in Diamond Bar crash that killed 6 pleads not guilty

A driver accused of killing six in a wrong-way drunk driving crash in Diamond Bar pleads not guilty
Driver in alleged wrong-way DUI crash in Diamond Bar that killed six pleads not guilty

A Fontana woman accused of driving the wrong way on two Southern California freeways before getting into a head-on collision that killed six, including her sister, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder.

Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, allegedly drank alcohol and got behind the wheel early Feb. 9, barrelling down the 57 and 60 freeways before colliding with a Ford Explorer, killing Culbreath’s two passengers and all four in the SUV. Culbreath, who already had a prior conviction for drunk driving, entered her not-guilty plea Tuesday.

At least 17 people reported to the California Highway Patrol seeing the vehicle going the wrong way, officials said.

Culbreath and Joel Cortez, the driver of a third vehicle caught in the crash, were the only survivors. Four family members in the Explorer, who all died, were identified as Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47; Leticia Ibarra, 42; Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20; and Ester Delgado, 80.

Culbreath's passengers -- her sister Maya, 24; and a friend, Kristin Melissa Young, 21 -- also were killed. Coroner reports show the two women were above the legal blood alcohol limit to drive.

Culbreath remains jailed on $6-million bail. At 17, she was convicted of drunk driving in San Bernardino County, Department of Motor Vehicles officials said. State records also show she was cited for traffic violations at least two other times.

According to the 2011 data from the DMV, the most recent available, more than 38% of fatal crashes in California involved alcohol. 

If convicted of the murder charges, Culbreath would face a maximum sentence of life in state prison. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20 in Pomona.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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