|For Immediate Release
Case # 09NF3559
December 9, 2010
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
WRONG-WAY DRUNKEN DRIVER TO BE SENTENCED
FOR KILLING TWO SISTERS AND INJURING THEIR
TWO NIECES AFTER HEAD-ON FREEWAY CRASH
*Defendant had a blood alcohol level of .26 percent,
more than three times the legal limit
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver with a blood alcohol level of .26 percent, more than three times the legal limit, will be sentenced today for killing two sisters and injuring their two nieces by crashing head-on into their vehicle while driving the wrong direction on the freeway. Jessica Lynn Shekell, 22, Anaheim, pleaded guilty Oct. 28, 2010, to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 percent causing bodily injury, and sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury. Shekell faces a maximum sentence of 19 years and eight months in state prison at her sentencing today, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
The victims’ family is expected to make victim impact statements at the sentencing today.
On Oct. 25, 2009, Shekell consumed several alcoholic beverages at two bars in Placentia while out with friends. At approximately 2:55 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2009, Shekell drove while under the influence of alcohol the wrong direction eastbound into oncoming traffic on westbound State Route 91 (SR 91) in her Toyota pick-up truck near Gypsum Canyon Road. Two California Highway Patrol officers observed the defendant driving 50 mph the wrong direction and initiated a traffic break on the freeway in order to stop Shekell’s car.
As the officers exited SR 91 and re-entered the freeway heading westbound to attempt to stop the defendant, Shekell crashed head-on into a Chevrolet pick-up truck driven by 49-year-old Sally Miguel. Sally Miguel, her 30-year-old sister Patricia Miguel, and their nieces, 15-year-old Mary Miguel and 11-year-old Sara Miguel, were driving home to San Bernardino after spending the evening together at Knott’s Berry Farm.
Shekell’s vehicle and the victims’ vehicle were totaled. Sally Miguel was pronounced dead at the scene. Patricia, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was transported to Western Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead shortly after 4:20 a.m. Shekell caused the crash that resulted in the blunt force injuries that killed both victims. Mary and Sara Miguel were also transported to the hospital to be treated for internal injuries they had sustained in the crash.
Shekell was transported to the hospital and treated for facial trauma and fractures to her arms. Approximately 45 minutes after the crash, Shekell had a blood alcohol level of .26 percent.
At the time that the defendant pleaded guilty, the surviving nieces gave victim impact statements describing the emotional impact of losing their aunts. They also explained the daily reminder caused by their constant physical pain suffered as a result of the crash including damage to one’s hip, causing her to rely on a cane to walk, dental problems, and continued stomach pain and digestion issues. The father of the surviving crash victims and his wife asked the court to reject probation and sentence the defendant to state prison given the severity of this crime.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.