Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Case # 09HF0538
April 14, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
DISTRACTED DRIVER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR KILLING PEDESTRIAN IN CROSSWALK CRASH WHILE ILLEGALLY SENDING TEXT MESSAGES
NEWPORT BEACH – A distracted driver will be arraigned tomorrow for killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk after failing to slow or stop while illegally text messaging. Martin Burt Kuehl, 41, Costa Mesa, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence and faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison if convicted. Kuehl is being held on $100,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in Department H-2, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
On Aug. 29, 2008, Kuehl is accused of illegally text messaging while driving westbound on Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach in a sport utility vehicle. At approximately 8:30 a.m., the defendant is accused of being distracted and failing to slow or stop as he approached a crosswalk, where 32-year-old Martha Ovalle was crossing the street. Kuehl is accused of hitting and killing the victim. Ovalle was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force injuries.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.