Drunk driver sentenced to prison for crash that killed deputy - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Drunk driver sentenced to prison for crash that killed sheriff's deputy

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Deputy Ken Collier Deputy Ken Collier

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 23-year-old man who drove the wrong way on a freeway while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, causing the death of a sheriff's deputy in pursuit, was sentenced Friday to seven years and eight months in prison.

Jose Lopez Jasso pleaded guilty last October to gross vehicular manslaughter and other charges in the death last Feb. 28 of Deputy Ken Collier.

Lopez could have received up to nearly 12 years in prison.

Witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing last year that they saw a small sedan traveling eastbound on westbound state Route 52 at about 3:15 the morning of the crash.

Maria Sanders said she was driving home to Miramar when she noticed the headlights of a wrong-way driver. The witness said she pulled over to the right shoulder and let the wrong-way driver pass.

Sanders said she noticed a sheriff's car with emergency lights flashing in pursuit, then saw it hit something and burst into flames.

Collier's car hit a bridge abutment and then crashed 500-600 feet down a ravine.

Witnesses said that it was foggy and the road conditions were wet when the crash occurred.

Collier -- who was engaged to be married -- died after being flown to a hospital.

Defense attorney Bruce Kotler argued that Lopez didn't know he was being pursued and called the crash involving Collier a "freakish accident."

But Deputy District Attorney Damon Mosler said Lopez should have known that driving the wrong way on the freeway is dangerous.

A toxicologist testified that the defendant's blood tested positive for methamphetamine and a "significant amount" of marijuana. The defendant's blood-alcohol level was 0.11 percent two hours after the accident, a criminalist said.

Ryan DeBellis, an emergency dispatcher with the sheriff's department who was getting a ride from Collier, was not seriously injured in the crash.


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