Officers say a Lodi woman who was driving drunk and caused a crash that killed three people in Thornton will likely face murder charges.
Coleen Torres, 23, is being treated for non-life threatening injuries at San Joaquin County Hospital while under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence and three counts of first-degree murder, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Typically, Torres would be charged with manslaughter. However, a prior DUI conviction made her eligible to be charged with murder, the CHP said.
Torres, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was traveling north along Interstate 5 near Walnut Grove Road at around 12:05 a.m. when she drove into the back of a semi-truck that was going 55 miles per hour, officers said. Torres lost control of her 1995 Jeep, sped across the median and collided head-on with a 2008 Volkswagen traveling 55 mph south along I-5, according to CHP.
The Volkswagen, which was carrying three people — none of whom were wearing seatbelts — careened off the highway and down an embankment, according to CHP.
All three people in the Volkswagen were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified as Vincent Cruz, 56, of Woodland, Nadara Guerrero-Cruz, 42, of Woodland, and Monica Martinez, 53, of Sacramento, according to the San Joaquin County Coroner.
Torres’ vehicle came to a stop on the highway. However, Tracy Norman, who was driving a second semi-truck at 55 mph, couldn’t stop before striking Torres’ Jeep.
Fire crews responded and extracted Torres from the vehicle. Norman, 54, of Lakewood, was transported to San Joaquin County Hospital for minor injuries.
Authorities are still investigating the collision.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.