Local News

Thursday, Aug 02 2012 04:52 PM

New details emerge in fatal alleged drunken driving crash

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The 19-year-old alleged drunken driver in a Mojave crash last month that killed one man and badly wounded another repeatedly told an officer at the scene to "just take me to prison," according to California Highway Patrol reports.

It didn't take officers long to determine John Robert Cullinan had been drinking. For one, he admitted drinking Schnapps and Bacardi at a desert bonfire party earlier that morning, newly available reports filed in Kern County Superior Court say.

Officers smelled alcohol on Cullinan's breath, his eyes were red and watery, his demeanor erratic and his speech slurred, according to the CHP reports. And he twice blew a .22 estimated blood alcohol content on a breathalyzer, the reports say.

That amount is nearly three times the legal driving limit.

Cullinan was arrested after being released from a hospital July 11 and booked on suspicion of DUI manslaughter without gross negligence, DUI causing bodily injury, and DUI with blood alcohol content of .08 or more. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a status conference is set for Aug. 9.

The Mojave resident made few other statements to officers following the crash other than that he was the driver and wasn't going more than 70 mph, the reports say. He said there was much he couldn't remember or didn't know.

Cullinan could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The 4:30 a.m. July 6 crash killed 21-year-old Joseph Ginnow, who was riding in the right front passenger seat of Cullinan's 2001 Chevrolet pickup, officers reported. Johnny Ginnow, 18, was in the middle passenger seat and suffered a broken left orbital socket and abrasions on both arms and knees.

Johnny Ginnow told officers he remembered the bonfire party but had no recollection of leaving the party or getting into the pickup, according to the reports.

Cullinan was also injured, suffering a lacerated liver and abrasions to both arms, the reports say.

The reports say Cullinan was driving east on Silver Queen Road, west of Highway 14, when he failed to negotiate a curve and went off the roadway and onto the dirt shoulder. The pickup slid into a wooden utility pole, shearing it off at the base and crushing the right side of the pickup.

The truck continued sliding and rotating in a clockwise manner until it came to a stop facing south and blocking the eastbound lane of Silver Queen Road, the reports say.

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