|For Immediate Release
Case # 11CF0766
August 24, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
MAN TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR KILLING PASSENGER AND INJURING TWO OTHERS IN FIERY CRASH AFTER INHALING NITROUS OXIDE GAS WHILE DRIVING
SANTA ANA – An intoxicated driver was arrested today on charges of killing a passenger in his vehicle and injuring two others after inhaling nitrous oxide gas while driving and crashing his car, causing it to catch on fire. Jose Luis Gomez Nava, 20, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated with sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury and causing great bodily injury to more than one victim. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. Nava is expected to be arraigned today, Aug. 24, 2011, in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time and defendant’s bail amount are to be determined.
At approximately 7:40 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2010, Nava is accused of speeding over 80 mph in a 45 mph zone heading southbound on Fairview Street toward MacArthur Boulevard in Santa Ana. Friend Steve Gomez, 15, was riding in the front passenger seat and friends Roman Gomez, 19, and Elvira Orejel, 18, were in the back seat.
Nava is accused of inhaling nitrous oxide gas from balloons while driving. After ingesting the nitrous gas, he is accused of dropping his head and releasing his hands from the steering wheel. Nava is accused of losing control of his vehicle, which went up onto the center median and crashed into a pine tree. The impact of the crash and damage to the front end of the vehicle caused the car to catch fire.
Steve Gomez was trapped inside the vehicle and died at the scene due to multiple blunt force trauma injuries. Orejel had to be extricated from the vehicle by Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) officers and was transported to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Medical Center to be treated for a broken leg. Roman Gomez was able to exit the vehicle on his own and was transported to Western Medical Center to be treated for abrasions to his chest and knee.
Nava is accused of being trapped inside his vehicle and had to be extricated by the Santa Ana Fire Department. The defendant was comatose and transported to UCI Medical Center to be treated for severe head and thermal injuries and a broken clavicle.
Nava is accused of being in possession of balloons in his pants pocket. A gas cylinder, valve knob for the gas cylinder, and a balloon were located by responding officers on the center median grass near the crash site.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Nava on March 24, 2011. He was arrested today by SAPD after spending several months in medical care for his injuries.
Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.