POWAY, Calif. - The man who was behind the wheel during a violent crash that killed an aspiring model told 10News Friday that he has a drug problem, but said the crash was a tragic accident.
"I'm very, very sorry for what happened," said 44-year-old Robbie Gillespie from inside San Diego County Jail. "I know some of my actions led up to this event. But, you know, to the fact that people say, 'I heard you killed somebody.' No, I didn't kill anybody. It was a tragic accident."
San Diego County sheriff's investigators said 19-year-old Evelyn Courtney died June 20 when the car she was riding in ran a red light and cut into the path of a Poway Fire Department fire engine responding to an emergency.
"I knew actually at the scene that she had died," said a soft-spoken Gillespie, who was arrested Thursday night and charged with vehicular manslaughter and DUI.
Gillespie told 10News Courtney was his friend.
"She was just a great person. She was nice to be around," he said.
Contrary to previous reports that the two met in a support group, Gillespie said he met Courtney at the Poway Best Western where he was a clerk.
"She'd come over a lot," he said. "She'd come over sometimes 8 or 9 at night."
The morning before the crash, Gillespie said he bailed out of jail on another drug-related charge. He then admitted to 10News he had a drug problem and took meth the morning before the crash.
He said he had a beer around 9:00 p.m., and then he picked up Courtney to hang out. His car collided with the fire truck around 4 a.m.
Gillespie claimed the fire engine's sirens were not on, saying, "Had the sirens been on, I know I would have heard it. Had the sirens been on I would have heard it."
Poway fire officials said otherwise.
A toxicology exam found Courtney's blood-alcohol level was at .2, well above the legal limit. Cameras caught sheriff's deputies removing a liquor bottle from the car, which Gillespie said belonged to Courtney.
"She brought that with her from, um, when I met her she always had something on her," said Gillespie.
Gillespie said the crash could have been avoided if he was home with his wife and kids. He told 10News his wife kicked him out recently because of his drug problem.
10News tried speaking Gillespie's wife after his arrest Thursday night, but she refused to talk.
Gillespie is expected to be arraigned Monday.
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