Family of wrong-way driver worries diabetes played part in crash with detectives

Local

SAN DIEGO – In the wake of last week’s deadly head-on crash in San Ysidro, the family of the woman behind the wheel of the wrong-way car is left wondering whether her medical condition played a part in the tragedy.

The collision on Interstate 5 in San Ysidro has garnered attention across California, in large part because the vehicle that was hit head-on belonged to married detectives with San Diego Police Department. The driver of the other vehicle was formally identified by the county medical examiner Thursday as a 58-year-old Ramona woman, Sandra Daniels.

Daniels’ husband, Darrell, had been anxiously awaiting the report, hoping to find one specific detail. “We were really hoping the pathologist could tell us her levels were low,” he told FOX 5.

Darrell says his wife was a Type 1 diabetic, and he thinks her blood sugar levels may have been low when she pulled onto the southbound freeway and headed north. But Thursday’s report didn’t shed any light on that scenario: cause of death is listed as “pending,” manner of death “pending,” and contributing factors was left blank.

“The medical examiner said they cannot detect low sugar,” Daniels explained. “They can detect high (levels) once your deceased but not low.”

FOX 5 contacted the county office Thursday and learned that some of those details may still come out in a final report. Beyond that, the medical examiner had no further comment.

For now, the mourning family is left to wonder.

“I’m not trying to make excuses or make some legal defense,” Daniels told FOX 5. “It’s the furthest thing from my mind. I just want to get the word out and educate people about diabetes and the damage it can do to your family if you don’t control it.”

The pancreas of a diabetic produces little or no insulin. Daniels says his wife dealt with the condition from the time she was 17. Type 1 is a chronic condition that no diet or exercise can fix, unlike some with Type 2 of the condition.

To keep her levels in check, Sandra used a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, that warned her if her blood sugar levels were getting too high or too low.

“She left it at home that morning,” Daniels said. “When I got home, it was sitting on the couch beeping and I was like, ‘Uh oh, that shouldn’t be here.’”

He said the next indication that something was wrong is how far south she was on the day of the crash. The family lives in Ramona and she had an appointment near Balboa Park, yet Sandra was down near San Ysidro, heading back north in the wrong direction on the interstate.

“I believe she was close to unconsciousness,” Daniels said. “You go through stages with hypoglycemia … It’s a tight window and (if) you don’t get anything to eat in that tight window, pretty soon you forget about eating and your sugar just keeps going down and down until you reach unconsciousness.

“I don’t believe she was the type of person that could hurt anyone. I apologize to the families of the officers. We support law enforcement. This is the worst thing that could have happened.”

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