Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
JUDGE SENTENCES DRUNKEN TEEN DRIVER TO PROBATION AND JAILFOR KILLING TWO FRIENDS AFTER CRASHING INTO TREE AND EJECTING
VICTIMS ONTO STREET
*The People objected on the record, arguing for a state prison sentence
SANTA ANA – A teen driver under the influence of alcohol was sentenced today to two years in jail and five years of formal probation for killing two friends after losing control of his car and crashing into a tree, ejecting the victims onto the street. Jared Nobel Berggren, 21, Fullerton, pleaded guilty to the court July 9, 2010, to two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.
The People strongly objected to the sentence, imposed by the Honorable Robert Fitzgerald, arguing that probation is unprecedented in this type of vehicular homicide case. The People argued that the defendant should receive a state prison sentence based on the fact that he was under the influence of alcohol, driving recklessly, and killed two people. The maximum allowable sentence under the law based on the defendant’s conviction is 13 years in state prison.
The People also argued that Berggren was offered a 6-year prison sentence by another judge prior to his preliminary hearing, and therefore the significantly lighter jail and probation sentence post-conviction did not serve the interest of justice.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. on May 11, 2009, Berggren was driving at a high rate of speed in a residential area in Fullerton while under the influence of alcohol. Victim Jacquelyn Ardalan, 19, was riding in the front passenger seat and victim Miles Andrew Christensen, 19, was riding in the rear right seat of Berggren’s truck. Berggren lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a large eucalyptus tree. Victims Ardalan and Christensen were ejected from the truck and landed nearby on the ground. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Berggren was transported to the hospital and treated for a non-life-threatening skull fracture. At the time of the crash he had a blood alcohol level of .10 percent.
Family members of both victims were present for the plea in July 2010 and made victim impact statements to the court. Ardalan’s mother, Alice Ardalan, told the court that her daughter’s death was preventable and that her life has been destroyed and forever changed by the loss of Jacquelyn.
Christensen’s father, Eric Christensen, explained that he had a strong, loving relationship with his son, but “overlying this is the solitude of judgment I feel as a parent. I find little satisfaction in anything I may have done right as a parent and find there is no emotional balm that can soothe the pain of my failures as a father. I know that things we tend to work out with time with our adult children will never be granted to me. I now live with the feeling that there is no redemption in this mortal life for the failures I had in raising my son.”