Man charged in traffic death
A Sacramento man was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in connection with an accident on U.S. Highway 50 on Christmas Day.
Ann Marie Rowley, 33, of Yerington, died a little more than two weeks after the accident, the coroner reported. Her husband, Mark Rowley, 34, broke his right arm and fractured a kneecap. He is still recovering.
Charges were filed against Mark Gregory Rodriguez, 34, of Sacramento, after tests allegedly revealed that the alcohol level in his blood at the time of the accident was .19. The legal limit is .08.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Rodriguez was traveling west on U.S. Highway 50 around 11:40 p.m, just east of Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort, when he drove his Ford Taurus into the eastbound lane, hitting the Rowley’s vehicle head-on.
Both Mark and Ann Marie Rowley were airlifted to Washoe Medical Center from the accident scene. The couple, who had been married only a year-and-a-half, were driving home to Yerington after celebrating Christmas Eve and Day with Ann Marie’s family in Sacramento.
Rodriguez was taken by ambulance to Barton Memorial Hospital, but when his condition worsened he was also airlifted to Washoe Medical Center.
Rodriguez was taken into custody Wednesday when he appeared for his preliminary hearing in El Dorado County Municipal Court. Rodriguez waived his right to a preliminary hearing and his arraignment on the charge was set for April 17 in El Dorado County Superior Court.
Before the accident, the 911 center received two cellular phone calls from citizens reporting erratic driving by a vehicle reportedly matching Rodriguez’s car. A CHP officer was waiting on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 50 for the suspect vehicle. Investigators said, the officer pulled in behind Rodriguez’s vehicle, that was driving straight at the time, and was about to initiate a stop when Rodriguez’s car entered a curve and drifted into the east lane striking the Rowley’s car. The officer was only behind Rodriguez’s car for 15 to 20 seconds before the accident, authorities said.
Mark Rowley was present in court for the preliminary hearing.
“I know people make mistakes, but it’s really hard for me to forgive,” Rowley said. “I could say, I wish he spends the rest of his life in jail, but I’m not really sure what that would accomplish. I guess I’m looking for a reform of character – to know that he would never do it again.”
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