|For Immediate Release
Case # 07NF2301
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OPENING STATEMENTS TO BEGIN FOR DRUNKEN DRIVER WHO STALLED HIS CAR,
CAUSING DEADLY COLLISION
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver faces trial Monday for stalling his car on the freeway and causing a deadly collision, killing one. Christopher James Koppi, 28, Anaheim, is charged with 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. If convicted on these charges, Koppi faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison. He is out of custody on $100,000 bail. Opening statements in Koppi’s jury trial are expected to begin Monday, April 26, 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 is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol southbound on State Route 57 in his gray Ford F150 pickup truck. The defendant is accused of running out of gas and coming 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 defendant is accused of blocking the lane and causing Pettigrew to crash his 1981 Datsun into the stalled pickup truck. Koppi is accused of causing 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 is accused of exhibiting 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 is accused of having 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.