SAN DIEGO — A 23-year-old woman involved in a fatal head-on freeway crash pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
April Thompson of National City stood before the judge in handcuffs. Her face was still badly bruised from Saturday’s crash.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said Thompson was driving her pick-up the wrong way on State Route 52 around 12:58 a.m. when she “plowed into a 1970 Volkswagen beetle, killing the driver instantly,” said Runyon.
The driver of the Volkswagen, 25-year-old Clairemont resident Jayme Midlam, died in the wreckage. Some of his loved ones wrote about the tragedy Thursday on the FOX5 Facebook page.
“We’ll all miss Jayme. His personality was one of a kind and he was a friend to all,” one friend wrote.
“Jayme was the most kindhearted, genuine person and I will miss him every day,” another friend wrote.
After the crash, Thompson was taken to a hospital and treated for injuries. While there, she was given two preliminary alcohol screenings and both showed her blood alcohol level to be more than double the legal limit, Runyon said. The result of her final blood test is still pending, he said.
Thompson told authorities she drank only one glass of vodka around 4:30 p.m..
After Thursday’s arraignment Thompson’s mother, Janet Cowan, expressed remorse for Midlam’s family.
“We’re just feeling devastated for the young mans family and especially for his mother,” said Janet Cowan, Thompson’s mother. “April has conveyed to me her feelings of just being so grief stricken, because of what’s happened and what she’s done. And she just feels horrible about it.”
Runyon said Thompson’s charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison.
“She knows and I know,” said Cowan. “That she has to pay the consequences of making bad choices.”
Cowan said this is unlike her daughter.
“She is so kind to others and thoughtful and loving,” said Cowan. “Just to do something like this, it’s just not like her.”
Cowan said her family is praying for the victim’s mother and other loved ones.
“We hope that she can find some comfort through God through all this,” said Cowan. “And that just that I wish somehow it could be undone.”
Cowan told Fox 5 Thompson had no recollection of what she was doing the night of the crash.
The judge set Thompson’s bail at $250,000.