|For Immediate Release
Case # 12NM06672
October 1, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
DRIVER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR KILLING THREE PASSENGERS AFTER LOSING CONTROL OF HER SUV
FULLERTON- A driver will be arraigned today for killing three passengers in her vehicle after losing control of her sport utility vehicle (SUV). Ruth NavaTorres, 43, Downey, is charged with three misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail if convicted. The People requested NavaTorres be held on $25,000 bail at the original arraignment date on July 2, 2012, but the court released the defendant on her own recognizance over the people’s objection. NavaTorres is scheduled to appear for her continued arraignment this morning, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-8, North Justice Center, Fullerton.
At approximately 10:17 p.m. on Aug. 9 2011, NavaTorres is accused of driving a Ford Excursion carrying relatives home from a church service at the Crystal Cathedral. NavaTorres is accused of driving at a high rate of speed as she exited the Interstate 5 freeway on the Beach Boulevard off-ramp from the northbound side. Torres is accused of losing control of the SUV which caused it to roll across the guardrail and on to another ramp before coming to a stop in an empty lot where it caught fire.
NavaTorres was rescued from the burning vehicle by a bystander. NavaTorres and a 17-year-old female passenger were taken to University of California Irvine Medical Center with severe injuries. Vanessa Torres, 24, Angela Prado, 49, and Sara Flores, 40, all from Downey, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Law Describing the Distinction Between Misdemeanor and Felony Manslaughter
Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter may be charged is where there is “ordinary negligence” or the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to one self or another. A person is negligent if he or she does or fails to do something that a reasonable careful person would not do in the same situation.
Felony vehicular manslaughter may be charged where there is “gross negligence” which involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. Gross Negligence would require a person to act in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury and a reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. The person’s action must be so different from how an ordinary careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of the act.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Eastman is prosecuting this case.