Driver accused in wrong-way crash that injured bicyclists has criminal history

Theresa Owens faces several charges, including DUI

SAN DIEGO - The woman accused in Tuesday's wrong-way crash that injured several bicyclists has a long criminal past.

Theresa Owens faces several charges in connection with the crash on Fiesta Island, including driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance. San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer said the driver had a substance consistent with methamphetamine.

Bail for Owens was set at $100,000. Court records show she has a criminal history stemming back to 2006.

She pleaded guilty in 2006 to inflicting injury on a spouse or cohabitant. Another charge of assault with a deadly weapon was dropped. Records show she was sentenced to nearly a year in jail and probation.

In 2009, she pleaded guilty to burglary. She was sentenced to 270 days in custody and three years probation.

"You have a sense of comfort going around that island, and now I know that not only the people that were involved in that accident, but everybody else that rides that island, is going to be thinking twice when you go around the corner," said attorney Mike Bomberger.

Bomberger, also an avid cyclist, knows many who were on the ride Tuesday evening.

"After the accident, they were just sitting there, and even a minute or two afterwards, they were still in disbelief," he said.

Experienced cyclist Beatrice Dormoy was one of those more seriously injured. She could be released as early as Tuesday night. Another man who was injured, Juan Carlos, told those on scene he could not feel his legs.

Bomberger said unfortunately the victims may not have much luck when it comes to helping pay for what could be expensive medical costs.

"I'm fairly pessimistic that she has insurance," he said. "A lot of the people that I spoke to that were on the scene, said it looked like the driver lived out of her car. Even if people have uninsured motorists coverage, they often times don't carry enough."

Owens is scheduled to make her first court appearance Friday.

BikeSD, a local advocacy group for cyclists, released this statement to Team 10:

"The driver who drove the wrong way on Fiesta Island needs to be charged and the incident fully investigated. The driver has to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, given that she was behind the wheel despite having multiple DUIs. The SDPD is undergoing a severe crisis of leadership right now and this is a terrific opportunity for them to demonstrate that their promise to serve and protect also extends to people who ride bicycles. Drinking and driving should be penalized and drivers who are inebriated should not be permitted to get behind the wheel of a machine that can hurt or kill."

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