Local News

Tuesday, Feb 18 2014 05:15 PM

CHP recommending vehicular manslaughter charge in fatal Christmas Day crash

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is being recommended by investigators in connection with a fatal crash on Highway 46 Christmas Day.

A CHP officer said in a search warrant filed in court that 19-year-old Xiuying Cui of Riverside ran a stop sign at the intersection of Holloway Road and Highway 46. Cui's 2013 BMW 335i, which had been traveling south, collided with a truck headed west on the highway.

The impact caused the truck to overturn, rotate and collide with a car in the eastbound lane, officer said. Sheila Gates, 50, of Watsonville, was thrown from the truck and died at the scene.

Phillip Gates, the driver of the truck, and Cui, both suffered major injuries.

The officer said in the search warrant that Cui caused the crash because she failed to stop at the stop sign before entering Highway 46 from Holloway. There is no stop sign either east or west on Highway 46 at that location, meaning the truck had the right of way.

Cui's speed was estimated at 80 mph. Alcohol or drugs are not believed to be a factor.

Officers seized the BMW and Cui's cellphone. A mechanical inspection was performed on the BMW, which was not equipped with an "event data recorder" installed in some vehicles to track things like speed and use of brakes before a crash.

The phone is being examined to determine if Cui was using it at the time of the crash.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Pafford said Tuesday that the case had not been submitted yet to the DA's office.

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