Driver suspected of DUI in crash that killed man, student ordered to stand trial
Sunny Hall could face 14 years in prison
Last Updated: 100 days ago
SAN DIEGO - An alleged drunken driver accused in a crash that killed a Good Samaritan and a woman who was days away from graduating college was ordered to stand trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Sunny Hall, 31, faces charges of DUI causing death and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, authorities said. She faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted, according to Deputy District Attorney Douglas Rose.
Following a daylong preliminary hearing, El Cajon Superior Court Judge Patricia Cookson ruled that enough evidence was presented for Hall to proceed to trial.
Hall -- who remains free after posting $350,000 bail -- will be back in court Sept. 4 for arraignment.
The California Highway Patrol says a deadly series of crashes that culminated with the double fatality happened shortly before 3 a.m. on June 11, 2012. Investigators say 25-year-old Angela August lost control of her Toyota Yaris for unknown reasons on Interstate 8, just west of Tavern Road.
The compact went up a roadside embankment, then overturned and rolled several times before coming to rest across the far left-hand lane of the freeway, with August pinned inside.
A short time later, 59 year-old Jimmy Arevalo of El Centro pulled his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck in front of August's car and was standing alongside the damaged Yaris, talking to the CHP on his cellphone, when Hall's eastbound 2003 Audi A6 plowed into the overturned car and Arevalo, according to Rose.
August, an Alpine resident, and Arevalo died at the scene, and Hall was arrested. Her blood-alcohol level was measured at .15 percent after the accident, nearly double the legal limit for driving, according to the prosecutor.
Hall was emotional in court Tuesday morning, wiping away tears as CHP Officer Michael Edwards talked about that fateful morning.
Initially, Edwards said Hall would not cooperate.
"[She was] very excited, appeared combative with the paramedics. They were telling her to calm down, I was telling her to calm down," Edwards said.
Edwards said Hall would not submit to any sobriety tests, although there were early indications she was under the influence.
"I could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage while she was in the back of the ambulance away from the other vehicles," Edwards said.
Families of both victims were in court. Arevalo's widow showed 10News a picture of her husband and in tears she said, "This is my Jimmy."
Outside the courtroom, she told 10News that her husband practiced what he preached to his young students.
"My husband was a great husband, father, son, brother and teacher," said Silvia Arevalo.
She also talked about how painful it is that he innocently died in this crash.
"My husband never drank," she said. "He didn't drink, and he encouraged his students all the time not to drink."
She added, "He lived by example, and he was a victim."
Hall has an extensive criminal record, mostly out of Washington state in cases ranging from drug possession to driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Copyright CNS contributed to this report