Vigils Honor Victims of Wrong-Way DUI Crash

A vigil was held Wednesday evening in honor of six people killed in a wrong-way crash by a driver suspected of being under the influence

By Jason Kandel, Hetty Chang and Beverly White
|  Thursday, Feb 13, 2014  |  Updated 5:25 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
As vigil is held for the family of four killed in a wrong-way DUI crash in Diamond Bar, relatives mourn the loss as a memorial fund is started to help them recover. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.

As vigil is held for the family of four killed in a wrong-way DUI crash in Diamond Bar, relatives mourn the loss as a memorial fund is started to help them recover. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.

advertisement
Photos and Videos

Deadly DUI Crash Part of National Trend

The revelation that the woman responsible for last weekend's deadly wrong-way crash had just regained her revoked license is bringing attention to a disturbing trend involving repeat DUI offenders. Hetty Chang reports from Diamond Bar for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
More Photos and Videos

Two candlelight vigils were held Wednesday night in memory of six people killed in a suspected drunken driving crash on the Pomona (60) Freeway.

The Los Angeles Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving observed a moment of silence during a candlelight vigil in Diamond Bar in memory of the six people killed. 

Among those killed were four family members driving home from a trip to San Manuel Casino. Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47, his wife Leticia Ibarra, 42, his daughter Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20, and his 85-year-old mother Ester Delgado, all of Huntington Park, were remembered by relatives and friends who gathered in prayer at a separate candlelight vigil Wednesday night in East LA.

A relative spoke with NBC4 about the youngest victim, an aspiring dental assistant.

"We nominated her...for Student of the Month. On Monday, we were gonna present her the certificate for Student of the Month, for Jessica," Marco Fregoso, a relative of the family killed in the crash, said.

Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, is accused of driving a red Chevrolet Camaro head-on into a Ford Explorer at more than 100 mph the morning of Feb. 9, investigators said. She was heading east on the westbound side of the Pomona (60) Freeway in Diamond Bar.

"On behalf of the family, we've talked about and said, 'may God be with her.' And we're all praying for her too," Fregoso said.

Culbreath was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving and manslaughter in the crash. She was injured in the crash and was hospitalized.

Kristin Melissa Young, 21, of Chino and Culbreath's sister, Maya Louise Culbreath, 24 of Rialto were passengers in Culbreath's car and were also killed in the crash.

In 2009, when Olivia Culbreath was 16 years old, she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the California DMV. She was convicted in the case in April 2010 and her license was revoked.

"The trend is that often times when there is a tragedy as it relates to a fatality, those are repeat offenders. It's rarely a first time offender who causes a crash," said Patricia Rillera, the executive director of MADD Los Angeles-Ventura.

The MADD vigil also paid tribute to other victims of recent drunken driving crashes in Southern California.

“It is important for our communities to honor the lives of those killed and injured in 100% preventable crashes,” Rillera said in a statement. “MADD would also like to generate awareness about the impacts of drunk driving, while informing the public about the programs and services offered to victims and their families throughout Los Angeles and Ventura County.”

In 2012, 802 people in California were killed in drunk driving crashes, MADD said. Nationwide, nearly 10,322 lives were lost due to drunk driving and another 400,000 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the slain family's fund can donate to the "Mary Mejia Gift Trust" at Chase Bank, account number 443146902.

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Running Dry
Coverage of the California drought. Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out