|For Immediate Release
Case # 07NF2301
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
DRUNKEN DRIVER CONVICTED FOR STALLING HIS CAR AND CAUSING DEADLY COLLISION
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver was found guilty today of stalling his car on the freeway and causing a deadly collision, killing one. Christopher James Koppi, 28, Anaheim, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated. The defendant has a prior conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2000. Koppi faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and is scheduled to be sentenced July 30, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-43, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Shortly before 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 26, 2006, Koppi was driving under the influence of alcohol southbound on State Route 57 in his gray Ford F150 pickup truck. The defendant ran out of gas and came to a complete stop in his lane underneath the Ball Road overpass. Around the same time, 59-year-old Richard James Pettigrew was also driving southbound in the same lane. The victim was a security guard on his way home from work. The defendant blocked the lane and caused Pettigrew to crash his 1981 Datsun into the stalled pickup truck. Koppi caused the accident, which caused another driver in a Toyota Tacoma truck to crash into the back of Pettigrew’s Datsun. Pettigrew died at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries caused by blunt force trauma to the head and torso.
Drivers who came upon the accident called 9-1-1 and reported it to the California Highway Patrol (CHP). When contacted by a CHP officer at the scene, Koppi exhibited objective signs of intoxication including blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and emitting an odor of alcohol from his breath. At approximately 6:20 a.m., almost two hours after the crash, Koppi had a blood alcohol level of .20 percent, two and a half times the legal limit.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.