Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
UNLICENSED, UNINSURED TEEN DRIVER CONVICTED OF KILLING FRIEND IN CRASH
SANTA ANA – An unlicensed, uninsured, teen driver was convicted and sentenced today for killing his friend by crashing into a tree on Ortega Highway. Francisco Jesus Ochoa, 19, Lake Elsinore, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence 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. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation.
Early in the morning on Nov. 18, 2011, Ochoa was 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 was 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 veered off the road, failed to slow, and crashed directly into a tree. He killed Gutierrez, who was crushed in her seat and pronounced dead at the scene.
At the time of the crash, the defendant was in possession of six Vicodin pills, for which he did not have a prescription. Ochoa was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg.
During the sentencing today, a victim impact statement was read on behalf of Gutierrez’s college-student daughter, Mayra Estrella. Estrella wrote in part, “It’s difficult to put into words the pain, sadness and anguish I’ve been feeling ever since the accident. When she was killed, many dreams were killed along with her. We wanted to get matching pedicures when I came back from my Winter break. We wanted to travel together and see the world. [My brother and I] are never going to be able to walk into our old apartment and see my mother sitting in her usual spot on the couch, watching the usual television shows and greeting us with that crooked smile she always had. We’ll never forget our beautiful, wonderful mother.”
The California Highway Patrol investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.