|For Immediate Release
Case # 08WF2268
November 25, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
UNLICENSED DRUNKEN DRIVER FACES TRIAL FOR KILLING MOTORIST IN HIGH-SPEED CRASH, CAUSING VICTIM’S CAR TO BURST INTO FLAMES
SANTA ANA – A 22-year-old unlicensed drunken driver faces trial Monday for killing another motorist in a high-speed crash, causing the victim’s car to burst into flames. Kenneth John McNair, 22, Downey, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated and one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid license with a sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of a crime. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, Nov. 30, 2009, in Department C-34, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
On the evening of Nov.15, 2008, McNair is accused of consuming alcoholic beverages with a friend at his home in Downey and then taking a cab to Downey Brewing Company. The defendant is accused of consuming more alcoholic drinks at the bar before taking a cab home. After returning to McNair’s residence, the defendant, who has never been issued a California driver’s license, is accused of driving to Sharkeez in Huntington Beach. Upon arriving at the bar, the defendant is accused of consuming several more alcoholic beverages before getting into the driver’s seat of his Honda sedan with his friend, who was in the passenger seat, and driving away.
At approximately 1:30 a.m., McNair is accused of driving northbound on Goldenwest Street at speeds between 75 and 80 mph in a 45 mph zone. At the intersection of Goldenwest Street and Edinger Avenue, the defendant is accused of crashing into the back of victim Jose Pacheco’s Ford Mustang and side-swiping another vehicle, which were both stopped at a red light. McNair is accused of causing the impact, which forced the victim’s car across the intersection, where it came to a stop and exploded in flames. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene on foot after crashing head-on into a semi-trailer truck on the other side of the intersection. Several witnesses called 9-1-1.
Huntington Beach police arrested the defendant one block from the scene. The defendant is accused of displaying objective signs of intoxication including bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, and difficulty standing upright. Almost two hours after the crash McNair had a blood alcohol of level of .25 percent, over three times the legal limit.
Witnesses and police were unable to rescue Pacheco due to the intense fire that resulted from the crash. The victim died from thermal injuries at the scene. Pacheco was a 20-year-old college student at California State University, Long Beach.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.