A La Quinta woman who admitted driving under the influence and causing a crash that killed a Temecula man on Interstate 10 was sentenced today to four years behind bars.
Elizabeth Minnie McGarvin, 52, pleaded guilty to one felony count of DUI gross vehicular manslaughter on June 19, shortly before her trial was scheduled to get under way.
She tested positive for benzodiazepines, a family of depressants, and ethanol after the Sept. 6, 2007, crash that left 50-year-old Gary Eugene Kraus dead at the scene and McGarvin with serious injuries.
Kraus swerved his Nissan Altima and slammed into a big rig while trying to avoid a head on-collision with McGarvin's eastbound Mitsubishi Eclipse. She lost control of the car, which crossed into westbound lanes of I-10 near Jefferson Street in Indio, according to the prosecution and the California Highway Patrol.
"While Mr. Kraus was able to avoid having the defendant's vehicle collide directly into his, while he attempted to swerve back off the south median and into the No. 1 lane, he lost control of his vehicle and it became lodged underneath the freightliner's trailer,'' according to the prosecution's trial brief.
The driver of the big rig was not injured. McGarvin had skull, rib and collarbone fractures and was on life support for a time, according to the prosecution.
In McGarvin's car, authorities found four prescription drug bottles, including Seroquel, which is used to treat schizophrenia; Topomax, for seizures; and Oxazepam, which is used to treat anxiety.
They also found a partially empty vodka bottle, but her blood-alcohol level tested at 0 percent. Because of McGarvin's injuries, however, a sample wasn't taken until six hours after the crash, according to the prosecution.