Nevada City woman who killed 2 in distracted driving crash begins her jail sentence
Special to The Union
A Nevada City woman who killed two men in a distracted driving collision last May started serving her sentence Monday in Yuba County Jail.
Zsophia Grace Lightstep, 21, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter in January and on Friday was sentenced to 90 days in Yuba County Jail, five years’ formal probation, 160 hours of alternative work program and $60,000 in restitution.
On May 2, 2018, Lightstep was driving her Nissan Pathfinder north on Highway 49 in Yuba County as Maria Skoblar was driving a Toyota Scion southbound with Brandon Gray, 20, and Joseph Vasquez, 19, as passengers. Lightstep looked away from the road as she reached for a coffee cup in the center console, unintentionally steering left into the center lines, according to court documents. Though Skoblar tried to avoid Lightstep, the two collided — the right front of Lightstep’s vehicle hitting the right front of Skoblar’s.
Lightstep, Skoblar and Gray were able to exit the vehicles and a witness who drove up to the crash tried calling 911, but there was no service in the area, according to court documents. The witness drove to the closest store and called for help.
Emergency personnel arrived and as a paramedic was tending to Gray, he stopped breathing. The paramedic and another witness with emergency medical training performed CPR for 20 minutes, but Gray died. Vasquez, who was the rear passenger, also died at the scene.
“The defendant stated she made a ‘serious mistake’ and feels ‘terrible’ about what happened,” according to the Yuba County Probation report. “The defendant indicated she was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offense. The defendant became distracted from driving, which caused the collision with the victims’ vehicle. The defendant never thought this type of event would happen to her.”
Yuba County Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello said cases like this are difficult for criminal court because criminal negligence, as opposed to recklessness, does not require a criminal intent or flagrant disregard for others’ well-being.
“Because the defendant’s negligence caused death, the elements of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter were met. If no one had died, we would never have seen this case,” Sorbello wrote in a text message Tuesday. “It is a tragic reminder of the importance of paying attention to the road while driving. Nothing the court could do could bring back the victims or make their families whole again, but I hope this resolution brings them some consolation.”
Rachel Rosenbaum writes for the Marysville Appeal Democrat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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