Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
January 6, 2012
Susan Kang Schroeder
UNINSURED, DISTRACTED DRIVER SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR KILLING MOTORIST IN CRASH AFTER RUNNING THROUGH RED LIGHT
SANTA ANA – A distracted driver was sentenced today to two years in state prison for killing another motorist by crashing into the victim’s car in an intersection after running through a red light. Laurie Anne Keen, 43, Irvine, pleaded guilty Dec. 15, 2011, to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter, one misdemeanor count of the recent use of a controlled substance, and an infraction for driving without automobile insurance.
At approximately 1:21 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2011, Keen was driving in Irvine in a Chevrolet van southbound on Culver Drive approaching the intersection at Farwell Avenue. The defendant did not have automobile insurance. She failed to pay attention, drove through a red light, and crashed into the driver’s side of a Toyota sedan driven by 77-year-old Patricia Thompson-Yates. The victim was making a legal left turn from eastbound Farwell Avenue to northbound Culver Drive on a green light.
After the initial crash, Keen’s vehicle spun counterclockwise and crashed into the victim’s vehicle a second time. Both cars came to a stop in the middle of the intersection.
Thompson-Yates was transported to Hoag Hospital, Irvine, where she was pronounced dead at 2:04 p.m. due to multiple blunt traumatic injuries. The defendant refused medical care and was not transported to the hospital. A test of the defendant’s blood revealed that she had methamphetamine in her system due to recent use.
During the sentencing today, victim Thompson-Yates’s family tearfully addressed the court. According to the victim’s step-daughter, her stepmother was the only grandmother her daughter had ever known and Keen had robbed their family of her stepmother’s companionship, love and guidance. In a letter read by a victim’s advocate on behalf of the victim’s son Mark LaPointe, he stated, “Mom will never get to see her grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up…now, those grand children, great-grandchildren and everybody else will be deprived of more precious moments with her.”
Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.