|For Immediate Release
Case # 09WF0612
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
SPEEDING WRONG-WAY DRIVER SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR KILLING PASSENGER AND ANOTHER MOTORIST AFTER LOSING CONTROL
OF HIS CAR AND CAUSING HEAD-ON CRASH
SANTA ANA – A speeding driver was sentenced today to five years in state prison for killing his passenger and another motorist after losing control of his car and crashing head-on into another car at over 85 mph. Deneshio Samuel Lankford, 23, Long Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. The People objected to the five year prison sentence, advocating for the maximum sentence allowable by law, nine years in state prison.
At approximately 6:35 p.m. on May 20, 2007, Lankford was speeding over 85 mph in a 45 mph zone eastbound on Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach. Lankford’s 17-year-old friend, Grisna Meas, was is the front passenger seat. The defendant lost control of his Honda sedan due to his unsafe speed and swerved onto the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic in the westbound lanes.
Lankford crashed head-on into a BMW driven by 52-year-old Rick Vetter, shearing the defendant’s car in two pieces, splitting the front and back of the vehicle. The front portion of the defendant’s car, with Lankford and Meas still inside, continued to slide and crashed into a Ford sport utility vehicle. Two additional cars were involved in the crash after being struck by flying debris and the drivers of those cars suffered soreness and scratches.
Lankford killed Vetter, who was crushed inside his car and died at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries. The defendant also caused the death of Meas, who still had his seatbelt on and was partially hanging out of the torn car after the crash. Meas died at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries. Lankford was transported to the hospital to be treated for two broken legs.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.