By John Clark
A drunk driver allegedly struck and killed two homeless people who were sleeping on a sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles, according to a report this week from the Los Angeles Times.
Sources say that 19-year-old Carmen Elena Chavez was arrested on Sunday on a charge of vehicular manslaughter after she lost control of her Mercedes-Benz while trying to make a right turn at a high speed.
When Chavez lost control of her car, she ran over two homeless people, who were dragged behind the car for several feet, which led to their deaths. The two victims had been sleeping in the infamous Skid Row area, which serves as a shelter for thousands of people without homes.
The victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, sources say, although their identities have not yet been released by Los Angeles officials.
In addition to the vehicular manslaughter charge, police have also charged Chavez with driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to sources, Chavez had been drinking with friends on a Saturday night before she and four passengers got into her car and headed downtown.
She was reportedly trying to make a speedy right turn at an intersection when she lost control of the car and jumped a curb, which led her into the path of the victims, who were sleeping against the wall of a nearby building.
Somehow, Chavez continued to drive for at least 50 feet, dragging the man and woman behind her, before she finally crashed to a stop, according to the police report.
According to one witness who spoke with local reporters, the car was smoking when it came to a stop, and the woman who was trapped under the car was “bleeding bad.”
Before police arrived, some of the passengers in the car fled from the scene, but both Chavez and the owner of the car stayed at the site of the accident until police arrived.
Sources say that Chavez was booked later that night into Los Angeles County Jail, and her bail was set at the lofty sum of $100,000.
In the next few days, Chavez will have an opportunity to consult with a DUI attorney, who will likely begin the process of reducing Chavez’s potential punishment.
But if she is convicted of vehicular manslaughter or a felony DUI, Chavez could be facing a serious fine, a likely suspension of her driver’s license, and a significant prison sentence.