SAN DIEGO - A woman who allegedly drove the wrong way while drunk and caused a head-on collision that killed the other driver must stand trial on gross vehicular manslaughter and other charges, a judge ruled Tuesday.
April Carole Thompson, 23, faces up to 10 years in state prison if convicted.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said Thompson was driving west in the eastbound lanes of state Route 52 around 1 a.m. on Dec. 29 when she crashed her Chevrolet truck head-on into a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle driven by 25-year-old Jayme Alan Midlam. Midlam died at the scene, and Thompson was treated at a hospital for moderate injuries.
About 20 members of Midlam's family packed the courthouse on Tuesday, including his mother and grandmother. They cried, hugged and held hands as the details of the deadly crash emerged.
One family friend who did not want to be identified said, "We loved Jayme. This is devastating. We miss him every day. People need to know not to drink and drive."
CHP Officer Albert Udan testified at Tuesday's preliminary hearing that the driver of a big rig told him that he saw oncoming headlights and immediately slowed to 35 mph and pulled over the right side of the freeway. The big rig driver said the victim's car passed him and was hit head-on by Thompson's truck.
Udan said when he arrived on scene, the vehicles were stuck together.
After the crash, Thompson started her truck again and tried to back out of the wreckage, but was unsuccessful, according to court testimony.
"She was just starting it up, even though it was already one," said CHP Officer Shad Davidson. "She had the truck in reverse and the two cars were locked together so they were moving back and forth in a rocking manner."
Davidson also testified that two men trying to get Thompson out of her truck told him that she kept saying "she just wanted to go home."
CHP Officer Jason Gutierrez testified that he arrested Thompson at the hospital, believing that she was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
Gutierrez said Thompson had bloodshot eyes, slurred her speech and smelled of alcohol.
Thompson's blood-alcohol level was measured at .21 percent two hours after the deadly collision.
The defendant told officers that she had only one glass of vodka about 4:30 p.m. the previous afternoon and was on her way from her home in National City to her boyfriend's home in El Cajon when the accident occurred.
Gutierrez said when Thompson was taken into custody, she became uncontrollable and had to be moved into a car with a metal divider.
"She became hysterical and began to ramble about situations in the past and started to move her body from side to side in the vehicle," he said.
Besides gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, Thompson is charged with driving under the influence and driving the wrong way on a highway resulting in death.
Judge Desiree Bruce-Lyle ruled that enough evidence was presented at the hearing for Thompson to stand trial March 20. A readiness conference was set for March 12.