A 29-year-old Laguna Beach woman was sentenced Thursday to nine years in state prison for causing a chain-reaction collision that killed a motorcyclist and injured another driver, according to an Orange County district attorney news release.
Leslie Juarez pleaded guilty Sept. 10 to one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more causing bodily injury with an allegation for driving with a blood alcohol level of .20% or more and a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury, the release said.
The crash occurred at 11:30 p.m. March 29, 2012, when Juarez, who was driving her Mitsubishi Eclipse south on the 405 Freeway north of Sand Canyon Avenue in Irvine, swerved into another lane and struck the passenger side of a Nissan Sentra, driven by 21-year-old Joelle Friedlander, according to the release.
Friedlander's car went over the center divider and spun onto the north side of the freeway. The collision's impact disabled the engine and lights on Friedlander's car before it came to a stop in the two carpool lanes, the release said.
Friedlander was able to run to the center median and was treated for a fractured ankle, bruises and cuts at Hoag Hospital Irvine.
A few minutes after the initial crash, 32-year-old motorcyclist J.C. Droege hit the Sentra with his bike, according to the release. Droege was thrown from the motorcycle and died at the scene after suffering multiple blunt traumatic injuries, the release said.
California Highway Patrol officers arrived on scene and said Juarez displayed signs of intoxication, which included emitting an odor of alcohol, slurred speech and unsteady balance, the release said. Juarez had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit (.23%) two hours after the crash, according to the release.