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‘Distracted Driver’ Arrested In Connection With Fatal Westminster Crash

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WESTMINSTER (CBS) — A 29-year-old San Diego woman was arrested Thursday on charges of killing a motorist after crashing into her at 80 mph.

Jorene Ypanto Nicolas is being charged with a felony count of vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of 23-year-old Deanna Mauer — the youngest of four children — in April.

Nicolas, who faces a maximum of six years in state prison if convicted, is being held on $100,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned Monday.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Nicolas was driving at about 80 mph on Interstate 405 near Edwards Street and failed to notice that traffic ahead had come to a complete stop. Nicolas crashed into the back of a Hyundai sedan, driven by Mauer, according to the district attorney’s office.

The DA believes Nicolas was possibly texting at the time of the crash and calls this one of the worst cases of distracted driving they have seen.

Suraya Fadel, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to the deceased woman’s parents Thursday night.

Mauer’s mother, Dawn, told Fadel, “My life has been turned upside down. There are times I don’t think I’m going to make it.” She added, “To this day, I don’t feel that it’s registered. I just don’t want to think about it.”

Her father concurs, “It’s disbelief. It’s a nightmare.”

Mauer’s car was pushed into the car in front of her, then struck the center divider before coming to a stop facing southbound in northbound lanes.

Mauer, a standout school athlete who was wearing her seatbelt, was taken to UCI Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead as a result of brain death due to vertebral artery transection.

Nicolas lost control of her own car after the crash and had to be treated for minor cuts.

Mauer’s mother is inconsolable in her loss. “I wish it had been me, instead of her.”

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