Lawyer: Fontana woman charged with killing 6 in DUI case is ‘scared’

Steve Taggart, left, of the California Highway Patrol takes measurements at the wreckage of a car crash on the westbound 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar on Feb. 9 that left six people dead.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

A Fontana woman who has been in jail since February after allegedly driving drunk on two freeways and killing six people in a crash in Diamond Bar is grieving and scared, her attorney said Wednesday.

Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Ramiro Cisneros said his client, 21-year-old Olivia Carolee Culbreath, has been “very scared” and in grief since her sister and five others were killed in the early morning crash Feb. 9 on the 60 Freeway.

Culbreath was handcuffed and wheeled into a Pomona courtroom Wednesday afternoon on a stretcher because she is still unable to walk due to her injuries, Cisneros said.

Family members were in attendance but declined to comment. Cisneros said they were “disheartened,” given that one daughter is dead and another faces a potential sentence of life in prison.


Culbreath softly answered the judge’s questions and did not look toward her family. Her arraignment was rescheduled for May 21.

Authorities say at least 17 people reported seeing a driver going the wrong way on the 57 and 60 freeways in the minutes before the crash. Police said witnesses told them the car was driven by Culbreath and appeared to be going more than 100 mph.

Culbreath and Joel Cortez, the driver of a third vehicle caught in the crash, were the only survivors. Four family members in a Ford Explorer were killed: 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 suffered a broken femur and ruptured bladder in the crash, officials said. She was transferred to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Twin Towers jail after being released from the hospital.

She is being held in lieu of $6-million bail.

Culbreath was previously convicted of drunk driving in San Bernardino County, California Department of Motor Vehicles officials said. State records also show she was cited for traffic violations at least two other times.



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