San Diego woman arrested, accused of causing deadly wreck - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego woman arrested, accused of causing deadly wreck

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WESTMINSTER (CNS/ CBS8) - A 29-year-old San Diego woman was arrested Thursday on charges stemming from a deadly crash last spring on the 405 Freeway in Orange County.

Jorene Ypanto Nicholas is charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in connection with the three-vehicle collision that killed 23-year-old Deanna Mauer, Deputy District Attorney Alison Gyves said.

"My life has just been turned upside down," Dawn Mauer, the victim's mother, told KCBS. "There are times I don't think I'm going to make it."

"It is disbelief," added Howard Mauer, the victim's father. "It's a nightmare." 

Nicholas was driving north on the freeway in Westminster last April 27 about 11 a.m. near Edwards Street in a Toyota Prius when she apparently got distracted -- why is unclear -- and did not realize traffic had been stalled for about 30 seconds, Gyves said.

"I truly believe that Deanna was killed because of text messaging," said Howard Mauer, "which is such a senseless death."

Nicholas failed to hit the brakes, and her compact car slammed into the back of a Hyundai sedan going about 80 mph, Gyves said. The Hyundai crashed into the car in front of it and then bounced off the center divider before ending up facing south in the northbound lanes, Gyves said.

Nicholas' car also crashed into the center divider, but she walked away from the collision with minor cuts, Gyves said.

Mauer, who was wearing a seatbelt, was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead about six hours after the crash, Gyves said.

"It takes one second to take somebody's life," said Dawn Mauer. "And they don't only take that person's life, but everybody's life around them."

"Deanna lost the rest of her life," added her father. "We lost the rest of our lives with her."

Nicholas, who is being held on $100,000 bail, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, unless she can post bail and is released before then, Gyves said.

She faces up to six years in prison if convicted at trial, the prosecutor said.

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