Trucker guilty of killing 3 children

Times Staff Writer

A big-rig truck driver was convicted Friday of vehicular manslaughter for slamming into the back of a minivan last year on Interstate 5 in Mission Viejo, killing three young siblings.

Jorge Miguel Romero, 38, of Apple Valley pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter involving criminal negligence.

He could face up to three years in jail, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.

Romero was accused of driving at an unsafe speed when his tractor-trailer slammed into the minivan, killing Ladera Ranch siblings Kyle Coble, 5, and his sisters, Emma, 4, and Katie, 2.


He also was accused of being inattentive, not keeping enough distance between his truck and stopped traffic, and hitting the brakes too late to stop.

The charges were recommended by the California Highway Patrol, which investigated the accident.

Romero told officers he was traveling 55 to 60 mph in the southbound slow lane on Interstate 5 in Mission Viejo when traffic suddenly halted.

He said he couldn’t stop in time to avoid plowing into the back of the minivan, which was stopped behind traffic in an exit lane.


State law requires drivers to travel at a speed that is reasonable for conditions including weather, visibility, traffic and width of the highway.

Romero was not injured in the crash.

The children’s mother, Lori Coble, 30, and grandmother, Cynthia Maestri, 60, were badly injured and hospitalized for days.