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Coarsegold Woman Sentenced in Double Fatal 2018 DUI Crash

MADERA — A Coarsegold woman who pled guilty to manslaughter in a 2018 DUI crash that killed two and injured two others has been sentenced to more than 9 years in state prison.

Sasha Marie Watson

Sasha Marie Watson entered guilty pleas in Madera County Superior Court last week (Feb. 11) to a number of charges including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Watson admitted to smoking methamphetamine the morning of the fatal accident, which occurred about 10:30 a.m. on September 17, 2018 on Highway 145.

According to a report from the District Attorney’s office, Watson was driving a vehicle with passengers including her mother, Heidi Lynn Vanzeyl, and two minor children.

While driving westbound on Highway 145, she drove into the oncoming lane of traffic to pass another vehicle and then attempted to pass a second vehicle while remaining in the oncoming lane of traffic as the center dividing line changed to a double-yellow line.

“As the defendant crested the top of a hill, she collided with a vehicle being properly driven eastbound by Karrie Lynn Petersen. Ms. Petersen and Ms. Vanzeyl were killed in the crash. The two minor passengers and the defendant were all injured by the crash,” stated a press release issued by District Attorney Sally Moreno after last week’s sentencing.

Witnesses and passers-by helped to remove all of the people from the vehicles while the California Highway Patrol and emergency medical responders were on their way.

The defendant was treated by ambulance staff and admitted that she had smoked methamphetamine prior to driving that morning. CHP later collected a sample of the defendant’s blood. Testing confirmed that she was under the influence of methamphetamine while she was driving.

Watson was placed under arrest and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, child endangerment, and driving without insurance.

Due to the defendant requiring medical care, she was released to the care of the hospital and was later taken into custody and brought to court on March 12, 2019.

Watson was sentenced to 9 years and 8 months in state prison.

“The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank the California Highway Patrol for their investigation in this case, Victim Services Specialist Yolanda Cardenas, first responders who provided aid in this case, as well as the good Samaritans who helped remove the victims out of the vehicles,” DA Moreno said.

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