DIAMOND BAR: Fontana woman charged with murder in crash that killed 6
February 13, 2014 by John Asbury
Officials investigate the scene of a multiple vehicle accident where six people were killed on the westbound Pomona Freeway in Diamond Bar, Calif., on Sunday morning, Feb. 9, 2014. Authorities say four members of a family have been killed in the wrong-way freeway crash that also took the life of two others, including the sister of a woman arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. — ASSOCIATED PRESS
BY JOHN ASBURY AND BRIAN ROKOS | STAFF WRITERS
Six murder charges were filed Thursday, Feb. 13, against the Fontana woman accused of driving the wrong way on Highway 60 in Diamond Bar, causing a crash that killed her sister, a friend and a family of four.
Los Angeles County prosecutors filed charges against Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, who remains hospitalized from injuries suffered in Sunday morning’s three-car crash.
The DMV, meanwhile, has clarified information it previously released about Culbreath’s driving status. Her license has been suspended and reinstated four times, including once for a conviction for driving under the influence when she was 16.
DMV officials had previously said Culbreath’s most recent suspension had ended Feb. 4 — just five days before the crash
. But spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said that was an internal date the DMV keeps open for three years if someone has had a DUI conviction, and Culbreath’s last suspension actually was lifted Dec. 20, 2011.
The CHP has said that early Sunday, Culbreath was driving her Camaro north in the southbound lanes of Highway 57, then entered westbound Highway 60 going east. About 4:40 a.m., authorities said, she crashed head-on with a Ford Explorer, killing all four people inside that vehicle and the two passengers in her Camaro. Another vehicle then hit the Explorer, but the driver suffered only minor injuries.
Killed in the crash were Kristin Melissa Young, 21, of Chino; Maya Louise Culbreath, 24, of Rialto; and Huntington Park family Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47, Leticia Ibarra, 42, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20, and Ester Delgado, 80.
The CHP said officers believed Culbreath had been driving drunk, and that a witness reported she had been speeding up to 100 mph.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office did not file charges related to DUI or speeding, but an official said the investigation is still ongoing and more charges could be added.
Los Angeles Superior Court set Culbreath’s bail at $5 million. She remains hospitalized in the jail ward of the USC Medical Center. She was not able to appear at her arraignment Thursday afternoon.
If convicted, Culbreath could face up to life in prison.
Culbreath’s first license suspension was an automatic penalty from the DMV for being convicted of DUI while under age 21, said Gonzalez, the DMV spokeswoman. The second came from a judge for the DUI.
The third suspension was imposed for being a negligent operator — she had two points charged against her driving record for the DUI and one for being at fault in a collision.
The fourth was for not filing proof of insurance.
Culbreath has remained eligible to drive because she has paid her fees, provided proof of insurance and served her suspension time, Gonzalez said.
The DMV has the authority to permanently revoke a license, but only if a person is convicted of assault with a deadly weapon — meaning that a driver intentionally used the car as a weapon, Gonzalez said.
A judge could also order Culbreath never to drive again, Gonzalez said.