The driver in a horrific high-speed, wrong-way crash that left six people dead — among them the driver’s sister — along the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar four years ago pleaded no contest to several counts of murder on Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Olivia Carolee Culbreath, now 25, was only 21 when she drove her 2013 Chevrolet Camaro east down the freeway’s westbound lanes and slammed head-on into a Ford Explorer, killing four people from three generations of one Huntington Park family along with two passengers in her own vehicle.
The gruesome incident, which saw bodies ejected from the vehicles and strewn about the roadway, gained national attention.
No DUI charges were filed against Culbreath though evidence showed her blood alcohol concentration stood at .15 percent three hours after the collision, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Prosecutors also said she had been driving the wrong way on the 57 Freeway before getting onto the 60 Freeway early that Sunday morning in February 2014.
The force with which she rammed into the family’s 1998 Explorer ejected all four of its occupants: Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47; his wife, Leticia Ibarra, 42; their daughter, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20; and Jessica’s grandmother, Ester Delgado. Mejia-Martinez and Delgado died at the scene, while Ibarra and Mejia died later at the hospital.
The Camaro’s two passengers — the defendant’s older sister Maya Louise Culbreath, 24, and their friend Kristin Melissa Young, 21 — also died at the scene.
The sole survivors were defendant Culbreath and a 57-year-old man in a third vehicle that became swept up in the wreck. Both sustained minor injuries; Culbreath spent nearly a month in the hospital with a broken femur and ruptured bladder.
Witnesses told investigators the Camaro had been pummeling down the freeway at speeds in excess of 100 mph a short time before the crash. Evidence of alcohol consumption was also found at the scene.
Culbreath was previously convicted of driving under the influence in 2010, when she was just 17, in San Bernardino juvenile court, officials with the California Department of Motor Vehicle told the Los Angeles Times.
Prosecutors also said she had previously been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after another crash, and at that time was warned by the court about the dangers of her behavior and that further offenses could result in murder charges.
Restrictions placed on her license in relation to intoxicated driving were lifted the week before the crash, the DMV confirmed.
Her older sister’s license was suspended at the time of the fatal collision following multiple DUI convictions of her own, the Times reported.
Tuesday’s plea was not negotiated with the DA’s office, prosecutors said. Officials did not say what maximum sentence she could expect face, but had previously said she could be given life in prison.
She is expected to return to court for sentencing Sept. 7 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.