DOWNEY - A 43-year-old Downey woman pleaded not guilty Monday to manslaughter charges after her SUV flipped over on a freeway off-ramp, killing three passengers.The crash happened at 10:17 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2011 as Ruth NavaTorres was driving home from a service at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. Prosecutors allege NavaTorres attempted to exit the 5 Freeway at Beach Boulevard "at a high rate of speed" and lost control of her Ford Excursion. The SUV rolled against a guardrail and landed in an empty lot where it caught fire. Vanessa Torres, 24, Angela Prado, 49, and Sara Flores, 40, all from Downey, were pronounced dead at the scene. NavaTorres and a 17-year-old passenger were taken to UC Irvine Medical Center with "severe" injuries. Prosecutors charged NavaTorres with three misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. She faces up to three years in jail if convicted.
********** Published: October 4, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 25