California Woman Sentenced to 30 Years for Drunken Driving Crash That Killed Sister, 5 Others

Olivia Culbreath wept in court while apologizing for killing six people.
Olivia Carolee Culbreath in court during her sentencing hearing. KCBS-TV

A California woman wept in court as she was sentenced to 30 years-to-life behind bars for a drunken, wrong-way crash that killed six people, including her sister.

Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 26, was given the maximum sentence by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench on Wednesday. Culbreath had entered a no-contest plea in May to six counts of second-degree murder. 

The Fontana woman was driving 100 mph in the wrong direction on local freeways before plowing head-on into a Ford Explorer in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2014.

Lench called it "a tragic case."

Everyone in both vehicles, save Culbreath, was killed in the horrific collision, which catapulted wreckage across several lanes and reduced the SUV and Culbreath's car to disembodied wheels, axles and twisted pieces of metal.

Family members in the Explore spanned three generations. The dead were: Gregoria Mejia-Marinez, 47; Leticia Ibarra, 42; their daughter, Jessica Mejia, 20, and her grandmother Ester Delgado, 80. 

Dead in the Camaro were Culbreath's sister, Maya, 24, and their friend Kristin Young, 21. Culbreath was seriously injured. 

Her blood alcohol level, three hours after the crash, registered .15 percent, according to Deputy District Attorney Casey Higgins. That is nearly double the legal driving limit of .08 percent. 

Culbreath also had a prior DUI conviction that involved a one-car accident in which she slammed into a light pole, the prosecutor said. 

Her driver's license had been reinstated less than a week before her latest crash, authorities said.

On the witness stand, Culbreath apologized to families of the victims. "I was wrong, I was so wrong and I take full responsibility for anything," she said, adding that she wished to be a good mother to her son, who was 11 days old when she went out drinking with her sister and a friend and later ended the lives of six people.

She will, she said, "punish myself for the rest of my life."

Mary Mejia, who lost her parents, sister and grandmother, described the agonizing hours she spent waiting for word on her family didn't come home after a trip to a casino four years ago.

"I didn't want to forget them," Mejia said. "I didn't want to forget anything about them. No one will ever feel the pain I feel."

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