An 18-year-old woman suspected of driving while high on drugs and fatally striking a bicycle rider in Orange – then fleeing the scene to Rancho Santa Margarita – has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Orange County Sheriff’s deputies had caught up to and arrested Sommer Nicole Gonzales, 18, Tustin, about an hour after the fatal accident, Feb. 2. But she was released while prosecutors decided they needed more time to build their case.
An Orange County fire battalion chief helped track down Gonzales after he first noticed her heavily damaged car on Santiago Canyon Road, then the telltale shoe of cyclist Joseph Robinson, 21, of Irvine.
“Gonzales is accused of driving under the influence of methamphetamine in her Toyota Corolla sedan southbound on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange and veering into the bike lane,” says a press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s office. “She is accused of hitting 21-year-old Joseph Robinson, who was lawfully riding his bike within the marked bike lane. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene, not stopping to render any assistance to the victim, or reporting the accident.”
Gonzales is expected in court Tuesday to enter a plea. Her official charges are:
- One felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
- Driving under the influence of drugs causing bodily injury
- Hit and run with death
- Possession of a controlled substance
- One misdemeanor count of use and under the influence of a controlled substance
- One misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia
- Sentencing enhancement allegations for inflicting great bodily injury
- Sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of a crime
If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 15 years and eight months in state prison for the felonies and one year and six months in Orange County jail for the misdemeanors.
Gonzales is currently in custody awaiting arraignment in lieu of $100,000 bail.