RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A 20-year-old woman who killed an Eastvale mother of two and injured one of her children in a wreck caused by the defendant’s alcohol and drug impairment pleaded guilty Thursday to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter and other offenses.
Grace Christine Whitman of Rancho Cucamonga killed 28-year-old Cynthia Pacheco in June 2018.
Whitman admitted the manslaughter count, as well as a charge of DUI resulting in injuries and a sentence-enhancing great bodily injury allegation, just as her case was called for a preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Under the plea agreement, the defendant is expected to receive seven years, eight months in state prison when she’s sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Helgesen on Jan. 6.
Whitman is free on a $90,000 bond.
According to sheriff’s investigators, about 5 p.m. on June 4, 2018, Whitman was driving her 2016 Subaru Impreza west on Schleisman Road when she plowed through a red light at Scholar Way. At the same time, Pacheco was driving her 2005 Toyota Corolla southbound through the intersection via Scholar.
“Whitman broadsided the Toyota as it went through a green traffic signal,” Deputy Dacia Medina wrote in a declaration in support of an arrest warrant last year.
Pacheco suffered catastrophic injuries but survived the collision. Her 5-year-old son, Josiah Rodriguez, suffered a head injury from which he has since recovered, according to investigators.
Pacheco was placed on life support and never regained consciousness, succumbing to her injuries on June 8, 2018.
Whitman was not hurt. She got out of her vehicle immediately after the wreck and sat down on a curb, where Medina questioned her.
“Whitman confirmed she was the driver of the Subaru and had been
drinking alcoholic beverages in the morning and afternoon,” the deputy said.
The defendant’s blood alcohol content registered .14, almost twice the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in California. According to Medina, Whitman’s blood work also revealed the presence of marijuana and prescription anti-anxiety medication.
According to Pacheco’s family, at the time of the crash, the victim was en route to set up a polling station for the primary election the following day. She was a fitness instructor, motivational speaker and active church and community volunteer, her relatives said via social media.