Driver killed in Eastvale crash that led to felony manslaughter charge is identified
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday, Jan. 10, declined to identify the victim or say when she died. However, a declaration written by a sheriff’s deputy to obtain the arrest warrant for Whitman, filed Dec. 12 in Superior Court, said Cynthia Pacheco, 28, died June 8, four days after the collision.
Rancho Cucamonga resident Grace Christine Whitman was charged in December, six months after the victim’s death and Whitman’s reported admission at the scene of the collision that she had been drinking.
Whitman, 19, was free after posting bail June 5 until her arrest Jan. 8. A warrant for her arrest was issued Dec. 12.
A GoFundMe page established for Pacheco’s two children described her as a fitness instructor, motivational speaker and community volunteer.
“As a Christian she had a love for worship, and was a light that resounded brightness everywhere she went,” wrote a sister, Christine Gutierrez.
Whitman was driving a Subaru Impreza west on Schleisman Road just before 5 p.m. when she ran a red light and struck Pacheco’s Toyota Corolla, which was southbound on Scholar Way, the declaration said. Whitman’s 5-year-old son suffered a head injury.
The deputy responding to the crash said she found Whitman seated on a curb. Whitman told her that she had been drinking alcohol in the morning and afternoon, the declaration said. A breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.136 percent, and a blood test revealed a blood-alcohol level of 0.142, the declaration said. A driver is presumed intoxicated at 0.08 percent.
A toxicology test found marijuana and depressants in Whitman’s blood, according to the document.
Whitman told the deputy that her mother had killed herself two months before the crash, and in a suicide letter, partly blamed her death on Whitman.
“I believe that given the upcoming holiday season, Ms. Whitman’s emotions surrounding her mother’s death are likely to intensify,” the deputy wrote Dec. 12, seeking the immediate arrest of Whitman. “That, coupled with the increased prevalence of alcohol and drug use that often accompany holiday gatherings, make it more likely that Ms. Whitman will endanger public safety by driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.”
It remained unclear Friday why six months elapsed before the Sheriff’s Department sought an arrest warrant for Whitman and whether officials were concerned that Whitman would drive while under the influence before the holidays.
The Sheriff’s Department was working on getting answers to those questions Friday, a spokesman said.
Whitman has pleaded not guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of drugs causing injury. She is in custody in lieu of $90,000 bail and is due back in court Jan. 28.