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.”

Comments (12)
  1. Unfortunate says:

    Prayers to all involved. It does not seem that it was this lady’s intention to hurt anyone. Sad all around.

    1. Rocky says:

      I’m sure she didn’t leave home with the intention of killing somebody, but her extreme negligence resulted in someone’s death. There’s no excuse for that.

  2. ginny says:

    What happened to the times when driving an auto meant just that; you got behind the wheel, and put your full attention into the task of driving. It’s getting more like the actual driving part is secondary to texting and or talking on the phons. Yet we still hear people saying they can do all of those things when driving.

  3. Trish says:

    I drive from Lakewood to Irvine and back every day. I see maybe 1 highway patrol a month. How can the issue of talking/texting on cell phone in your car ever going to get resolved when officers are not patrolling for it? I am behind a distracted driver every day, swinging their arms around, slamming on their brakes for no reason, swirving from lane to lane. People are dying! They need to come up with a task force to do nothing but stop people for this issue! My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  4. geeM says:

    Arrest the texters PERIOD !
    Enforce the laws with heavy fines. Cell phone addiction is a huge problem.

  5. astroboy says:

    I feel sorry for the both the family of the victims and the driver. The victim was so young. The driver is a single mom.. I am pretty sure that the judge will take a closer look at her driving history if she got some bad habit (driving reckless or distracted). I just want to share that I almost got into the same situation. It happened at 405 NB early last year. It was early afternoon. I was on the fast lane driving around 70-75 mph when suddenly the traffic came to a halt. Good thing, I was able to slam my brakes on time. Had I been 2-3 seconds late on stepping on d brakes, I could have hit the car in front of me. I wasn’t distracted as my eyes were all on the road. It’s just that I wasn’t able to recognize right away that the traffic had come to a stop since it happened on the curved portion of the freeway. After 3 seconds, a van suddenly appeared and the driver also failed to notice that the traffic came to a stop. I thought that I was gonna die because of the noise of the screeching tires. From my rear view mirror, I saw the van wiggled before coming to a stop. The van was probably a foot or two away from my bumper. The driver was Mexican and he was with his family. I can see fear from his face as they just cheated death.

    I am strongly against distracted driving. I always see drivers using their phones for voice calls. Some drivers read or send text messages, some configure their GPS, some are eating/drinking something. I agree on imposing heavy fines for distracted drivers because they violate the most important rule in driving which is “All eyes and full attention should be on the road”.

  6. Sad says:

    This story is just so sad. I remember seeing the back up on the 405 that day… I cannot imagine what this family is going through. I do not know if the girl was texting but I see people texting and driving all the time. People just need to stop! I don’t believe this girl meant to kill anyone, and she will have to live with that for the rest of her life. I also think the speed limit should go back to 55. I remember when going 80 was reckless driving and we all cruise at this speed now. It’s ridiculous! We all need to slow down. I am so sorry for their loss.

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