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Escondido police arrest driver in May crash that killed 4 pedestrians

Escondido police Thursday arrested a 28-year-old woman on suspicion of murder and intoxicated driving charges in connection with a May crash that killed four pedestrians, including a grandmother and her two grandsons, as the group were on a walk, police said.

Ashley Rene Williams of Escondido was arrested on suspicion of four counts of murder and four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, according to a statement from Escondido police Lt. Kevin Toth.

Williams, driving a 2014 Mazda3, allegedly crashed into the victims about 8:30 p.m. May 5 as they walked on San Pasqual Valley Road near Oak Hill Drive in Escondido.

Authorities have identified those who died as Carmela Camacho, 50; her boyfriend, Abel Juan Valdez, 33; and her grandsons, Emmanuel Rivas, 11, and Yovanny Felix, 10.

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Camacho’s daughter, who is the mother of the two boys, set up a GoFundMe page last month, identifying Camacho and Valdez as a couple.

“This case has been a devastating event for our community,” Toth said in a news release, adding that the arrest came nearly a month after the crash because “vehicle-related death investigations require significant follow-up investigation including vehicle computer analysis, cellphone analysis, roadway computations and lab tests.”

The night of the crash, Escondido police said it did not appear the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Toth confirmed Thursday that Williams did not show “overt signs” of intoxication that night, but because she was injured and taken to a hospital, she couldn’t be fully evaluated at the scene.

But after a full toxicology report was conducted on blood samples collected that night, investigators believe Williams was under the influence of a substance, Toth said. The lieutenant declined to disclose what substances were allegedly found in her system.

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Investigators obtained an arrest warrant Thursday for Williams and arrested her at her home, Toth said.

Escondido police said Tuesday that they’d spent “hundreds of work hours” investigating the crash, which included a “witness canvass” of the area, seeking surveillance video and searching Williams’ car and phone to determine if anything contributed to the crash. They also said they inspected the car to determine if speed or mechanical issues were factors.

Valdez and Emmanuel died at the scene, according to police and the Medical Examiner’s Office. Camacho and her younger grandson, Yovanny, died that night at Palomar Medical Center.

Riggins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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