CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A man accused of driving on the wrong side of a Chula Vista roadway during an apparent high-speed street race, triggering a crash that killed a woman and injured her two grandchildren, pleaded not guilty Friday to vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving charges.
Alonso Pina, 22, is accused in the June 5 death of Martha Villalobos Romo, 57, whose car was struck at the intersection of Third Avenue and L Street just after 6 p.m.
According to Chula Vista police Lt. Dan Peak, Pina was driving on the wrong side of the road and ran a red light at the intersection, striking Villalobos Romo's Nissan Altima. She died at the scene, and her 7- and 10-year- old grandchildren, who were riding in the backseat, were treated at a hospital for what were described as minor injuries.
Pina, who was behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, is believed to have been racing with the driver of a white Subaru WRX who remains unidentified, according to Peak, Citing witness accounts, he alleged the drivers were "racing each other at high speeds."
In a GoFundMe page created to raise money for funeral expenses, Villalobos Romo's daughter, Stephanie Ramirez, wrote that her mother was an "amazing mother, grandmother and daughter" whose favorite thing to do was to "spend time with her grandkids as much as she could, and I believe that she protected them till her very last breath."
While thankful that the grandchildren survived the crash, Ramirez wrote that they "are completely devastated to witness the loss of their grandma."
Pina was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and was booked into county jail two days later, according to jail records. He remains held on $250,000 bail.
The Subaru driver remains at large, and police are seeking any witnesses or anyone with information regarding that driver's whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to contact San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888- 580-8477 or the Chula Vista Police Department at 619-691-5151.