Woman Pleads Guilty To Crash That Killed UCSD Grad Student

Nikolette Gallo Was Driving Under The Influence In Crash That Killed Sho Funai, Authorities Say

A 19-year-old woman who struck and killed a pedestrian on Interstate 8 in Ocean Beach pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of hit-and-run causing death and a misdemeanor count of being a minor in possession of alcohol.

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Nikolette Kristina Gallo of Rancho Penasquitos will be sentenced July 26.

Superior Court Judge Dwayne Moring said he would "strongly consider" probation and some sort of custody or alternatives to custody at the time of sentencing.

In her plea, Gallo admitted being involved in an accident in the early morning hours of March 11 and failing to stop as required by law. She also admitted possessing alcohol in a public place earlier in the evening.

The defendant was taken into custody at her home about noon on March 11, nearly eight hours after a passer-by found the body of 23-year-old Sho Funai alongside the freeway, just east of Nimitz Boulevard, said California Highway Patrol Officer Art Athans.

It was unclear why Funai, a former Rancho Palos Verdes resident reported to have been a UC San Diego engineering graduate student, ventured onto the shoulder of the interstate on foot.

Gallo told investigators she had just dropped off a friend in the beach area and was on her way home when she hit what she thought was a discarded sofa alongside the eastbound side of the freeway, Athans said.

The next morning, she saw news coverage of the pedestrian fatality and told her father she feared she may have been the motorist involved, he said. They contacted an attorney, who got in touch with the Highway Patrol and said investigating officers could meet with his clients at the Gallo home.

There, they got a statement from the teenager, who admitted to drinking prior to the accident, and they inspected her 2007 Toyota Camry, which had significant front-end damage, according to Athans.

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