Drunk Driving Killed Dana Point Cyclist

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SANTA ANA (CBS) — A woman accused of killing a bicyclist in Dana Point pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

According to Orange County sheriff’s officials, it was on October 15th, 2007 when 30-year-old, Michelle Nicole Stearns lost control of her BMW while driving northbound on Del Obispo Street near Quail Run. The car jumped the curb, hit a traffic sign and crashed into 32-year-old Jose Umberto Barranco-Patino, killing him. The crash also triggered a power outage in the area for about 600 customers.

An Orange County sheriff’s spokesman said Stearns’ blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time. The San Juan Capistrano resident made an open plea — meaning there are no guarantees from prosecutors or the judge on what her punishment will be — her attorney Michael Eric Kraut said.

Stearns was sent to a 90-day diagnostic program run by the Department of Corrections to determine if she is eligible for probation. Her attorney declined further comment.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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