92-year-old woman charged in deadly traffic accident - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

92-year-old woman charged in deadly traffic accident

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 92-year-old woman was charged with a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter for the death of another woman who was struck by the defendant's vehicle in a parking lot in La Jolla, the City Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. 
   
Mary Catherine O'Neil, who lives in a retirement home in the eastern United States, will be arraigned later this month, according to the City Attorney's Office. She is also charged with making an unlawful backing 
movement.
   
O'Neil is accused of striking Melissa Bonney Ratcliff with her car and pinning her against another vehicle last Oct. 7.
   
Ratcliff, a 45-year-old mother of three and the vice president of marketing and events at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, had just pulled into a parking spot on Girard Avenue and stepped out of her vehicle.
   
The City Attorney's Office said O'Neil, then 91, told police she had not been using her rear-view mirror.
   
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said prosecutors won't seek jail time for O'Neil, but will ask that she surrender her driver license, agree to never drive again and make restitution to her victims.
   
"Three children lost their mother due to the defendant's actions," Goldsmith said. "While her age may make her unsuitable for jail time, it does not relieve her of responsibility for her decisions."
   
He said the public has a strong interest in the mental and physical abilities of drivers.
  
"Every older driver must make informed decisions about the increased risks of driving as their abilities decline," Goldsmith said. 

"Their friends and families have a moral responsibility to ask questions and to speak up when they recognize safety concerns."
   
Besides working at the chamber, Ratcliff was on the High Tech High Foundation Board of Directors.
   
Previously, she worked as deputy communications director for former Vice President Al Gore, was a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee and was director of communications at The Broad Education Foundation in Los Angeles.

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