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Murrieta Woman Accused of Causing Fatal Crash While Drunk Enters Plea

Yadira Gonzalez, 38, could face 15 years in prison if convicted of killing 40-year-old Emma Araujo of Long Beach and severely injuring the woman's older sister in a Nov. 3 wreck in San Jacinto.

Booking photo of Yadira Gonzalez, 38, of Murrieta, released Nov. 3, 2013.
Booking photo of Yadira Gonzalez, 38, of Murrieta, released Nov. 3, 2013.

A Murrieta woman accused of killing a motorist and injuring her passenger in a DUI crash triggered when the defendant knocked over a sign in a construction zone pleaded not guilty Thursday to gross vehicular manslaughter.

Yadira Gonzalez, 38, could face 15 years in prison if convicted of killing 40-year-old Emma Araujo of Long Beach and severely injuring the woman's older sister in a Nov. 3 wreck in San Jacinto.

Gonzalez appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Judith Clark, who scheduled a felony settlement conference in the case for May 8 and set the defendant's bail at $125,000. Gonzalez is being held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

Along with the manslaughter count, she's charged with DUI resulting in injury and multiple sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegations.

On the night of the wreck, Gonzalez was headed eastbound in her Chrysler PT Cruiser when she slammed into a flashing arrow board mounted on an unhitched trailer. According to sheriff's officials, the sign was directing motorists to merge into the right lane because of construction-related closures on the roadway.

Gonzalez -- whose blood-alcohol level was .20, more than twice the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle -- ran into the sign and continued east, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Araujo was going west at the same time in her Toyota Sienna and had no time to react when the sign toppled onto the hood of her car, plunging through the windshield and shearing off the SUV's upper frame, inflicting massive head trauma to the victim and her sister, who survived and has since recovered, prosecutors said.

Araujo was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gonzalez went about 500 yards before pulling to the side of the road with a flat tire, according to investigators.

Deputies arrested her a short time later.

An extensive investigation was conducted to ensure the defendant's car did not have a mechanical flaw that might have contributed to the wreck, and to determine whether the placement of the sign had anything to do with it.

Gonzalez posted a $50,000 bond after her arrest in November and remained free until her arraignment today, when she was taken into custody by deputies at the Southwest Justice Center.

— City News Service.



Jean Caesar May 02, 2014 at 08:27 PM
Justice for all except the killer drunks, right? Waterboard them with tequila?
Tony Tee May 03, 2014 at 01:38 AM
Carlos, where does it say that she was illegal you ignorant and racist bastard! It is sad that uneducated people like yourself give true and hard working Americans a bad name. Educate yourself. With As much time as you probably spend online making ridiculous accusations, you could utilize your time wisely and get an online degree of some sort.. JACKASS!!!
ChrisG May 03, 2014 at 10:43 AM
I'll be surprised if she serves 7. Stronger, more severe punishments are needed when negligent driving like this causes death.
Brenda May 20, 2014 at 03:34 AM
SA and Justice, I do not think the sign would be a factor as it wasnt for anyone else and they are usually placed out of the way. Moronic and .20 could cause her to hit it though. Justice, I believe its MURDER, and #1, premeditated at that, and DUI with injuries and death or even just a crash on themselves should all be charged as such. It is drilled into our kid's heads, teenagers, adults to NOT drink and drive, and we watch videos to remind us why, and see pictures to remind us why, we lose friends yearly in our young years to remind us not to drink and drive. At some point when this girl was getting ready to go out, she got out and started drinking, then go drunk, no one cared to step in and take away her keys obviously unless she didnt get lucky for a guy to notice her that night to take her home, she got in the car knowing she was drunk, and she killed someone. There was not a moment in her evening, even when she was getting ready to go out that she did not know that if she drank and drove she could kill someone! Everyone is given out cards, or they are sitting there in the bars for the taxi services now, friends who help friends, all those folks who help with a ride home. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE TO HAVE A DUI, with or without injuries, murder. It is premeditated and it needs to be charged as such as soon as some representative we put in office does something for us for once instead of just keeping his damn chair warm. They say 15, and she will get out in 2 to 4 guaranteed unless we get lucky and she shanks a guard. Strange enough if she cuts up a guard a little bit she will for sure get 15. Strange how our laws work right? Kill two innocent women take a 2 to 4 yr vacation with your home girls, shank a guard at the prison and definately get another 15 yrs tagged on. Something is seriously wrong with our justice system and laws governing charges for Drunk Driving is one of the main ones.

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