Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Man Faces Charges in Crash that Killed Girlfriend

May 22, 2012
By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group

A 24-year-old Berkeley man who was the driver in an accident Friday morning that killed his 22-year-old girlfriend and put her 6-year-old son in a coma was arrested Tuesday and faces six felony charges, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Jose Lumbreras, who police say had a blood alcohol count of .219, or two and a half times the legal limit of 0.08, remains in Highland Hospital in Oakland after the crash, officials said. His girlfriend, Milanca Lopez, who was sitting in the front seat and was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, police said.

Police said a Cadillac driven by Lumbreras was traveling about 64 mph northbound on California Street, a quiet residential street, about 1:15 a.m. Friday when it hit a traffic circle at Allston Way, became airborne and hit a tree about 20 yards on the opposite side of the circle, police said.

There were no skid marks showing Lumbreras might have tried to slow down before hitting the concrete curb around the traffic circle, said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

Lopez's 6-year-old son, Xavier, who was wearing a seat belt in the back seat but was not in a booster, is in a coma on life support and has "minor brain function," police said.

Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the Alameda County district attorney, said the one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated taken by itself carries prison time of between four and 10 years on conviction.

UC Berkeley officials said Lopez was getting ready to graduate with a degree in social welfare and had been accepted to graduate school at UCLA.

A photo at the crash scene where friends and family held a vigil Sunday shows Lopez and her son in graduation gowns at the university's Chicano Latino graduation ceremony May 12. 

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.

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