DRIVER UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA FACES TRIAL FOR CAUSING HIGH-SPEED FREEWAY CRASH, KILLING TWO AND SEVERELY INJURING ANOTHER
SANTA ANA - A driver under the influence of alcohol and marijuana faces trial tomorrow for causing a high-speed freeway crash, killing two elderly passengers and severely injuring their elderly driver. Trevor Mark Coffman, 38, Laguna Niguel, is charged with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act without gross negligence while intoxicated with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury to an elder. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison. Coffman is out of custody on $100,000 bail. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Thursday, April 1, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-43, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On March 15, 2007, 76-year-old Sally Lee Howd and her 82-year-old husband Frank Howd were returning home with 72-year-old Catherine Malloy, a visiting friend whom they picked up from Los Angeles International Airport. They were driving southbound in the carpool lane on Interstate 5 and collided with a black Toyota Celica, which was disabled with no emergency signal lights on the freeway south of El Toro Road.
In the evening of March 15, 2007, Coffman is accused of consuming several alcoholic drinks following a recreational softball game. At approximately 11:20 p.m., the defendant is accused of driving southbound on Interstate 5 while intoxicated in his pick-up truck with a friend in the passenger seat. Coffman is accused of failing to stop due to his intoxication and crashing into the victims' Volvo, which was disabled as a result of the earlier collision. Witnesses called 9-1-1.
Coffman is accused of killing passengers Malloy and Frank Howd and severely injuring driver Sally Howd. Malloy was pronounced dead at the scene. The two other victims were transported to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. Frank Howd suffered internal injuries and a broken pelvis and died the next day from multiple traumatic injuries that were caused by the crash. Sally Howd sustained a skull fracture, broken ribs, and cuts to her face.
When contacted by police at the scene, Coffman is accused of displaying objective signs of intoxication including impaired balance and coordination, watery eyes, and an odor of alcohol on his breath. The defendant is accused of having a blood alcohol content of .10 percent and testing positive for marijuana. Coffman was arrested after being transported to the hospital and treated for a broken collar bone and scratches.