Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
Update: An earlier press release identified the victim as Margarita Estrella. Per the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, the victim’s true name is Margarita Gutierrez.
UNLICENSED, UNINSURED TEEN DRIVER CHARGED WITH KILLING FRIEND IN CRASH WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
SANTA ANA – An unlicensed, uninsured teen driver has been charged with killing his friend by crashing into a tree on Ortega Highway while driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Francisco Jesus Ochoa, 18, Lake Elsinore, is charged with one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and an infraction for failing to maintain liability insurance. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months in state prison. The defendant is currently being treated at Mission Hospital for a broken leg and his arraignment date is to be determined. The People will be requesting Ochoa be held on $100,000 bail at his arraignment.
Early in the morning on Nov. 18, 2011, Ochoa is accused of driving a Ford pick-up truck without a valid license or insurance westbound on Ortega Highway with friend Margarita Gutierrez in the front passenger seat. The defendant is accused of swerving and weaving across the two-lane highway for several miles, crossing back and forth onto the wrong side of the road and onto the dirt shoulders on either side.
At approximately 6:45 a.m., Ochoa is accused of veering off the road, failing to slow, and crashing directly into a tree. He is accused of killing Gutierrez, who was crushed in her seat and pronounced dead at the scene.
At the time of the crash, the defendant is accused of being under the influence of prescription drugs, which impaired his ability to drive. He is also accused of being in possession of six Vicodin pills at the time of the crash, for which he did not have a prescription.
Ochoa was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg.
The California Highway Patrol investigated this case.
Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.