LocalL.A. Now

Wrong-way driver in deadly 60 Freeway crash charged with murder

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeDrunk DrivingHomicide

A 21-year-old Fontana woman was charged Thursday with multiple counts of murder in connection with a wrong-way driving crash on the 60 Freeway that killed six people.

Olivia Carolee Culbreath was charged with six counts of murder for allegedly driving a red Chevrolet Camaro the wrong direction on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar early Sunday morning before smashing into a Ford Explorer, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Authorities said they found evidence suggesting Culbreath was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. But Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said no DUI-related charges had been filed.

“The case is still under investigation," she said. "After it is completed the complaint can be amended to include any additional charges.” 

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 -- were also killed.

Culbreath, who remains hospitalized, remained in custody Thursday in lieu of $6-million bail, the district attorney’s office said. Ardalani said it was unclear when Culbreath would be well enough to attend her arraignment in court. She is in the hospital jail ward at L.A. County-USC Medical Center.

At 17, she was convicted of drunk driving in San Bernardino County, Department of Motor Vehicles officials said. State records also show that 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. 

Witnesses told police Culbreath appeared to be traveling more than 100 mph.

If convicted of the murder charges, Culbreath faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison.

ALSO:

LAPD in mourning after 3 officers killed in 2 months

Donald Sterling will fight to keep Clippers, Garcetti predicts

Red Cross assisting homeless residents displaced after shelter fire

 

Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

matt.stevens@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeDrunk DrivingHomicide
Comments
Loading