“I Didn't See Her in the Crosswalk”

OCDA: Text messaging driver in crash faces prison time

An Orange County driver who was allegedly text messaging when his vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in a crosswalk pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Martin Burt Kuehl, 41, was charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence.

"I didn't see her in the crosswalk," Kuehl said in court Wednesday.

After Wednesday's brief hearing, he told the judge, "I am sorry for taking your time."

On Aug. 29, 2008, he allegedly was illegally text messaging while driving westbound on Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach. At 8:30 a.m., Kuehl's SUV crushed 32-year-old Martha Ovalle in a crosswalk. She was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force injuries.

Kuehl, of Costa Mesa, is being held on $100,000 bail. He has prior burglary and petty theft convictions.

He faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison if convicted.

Contact Us