By Augustine Ugalde
More than two months have passed since Fontana resident Elizabeth Carolee Culbreath took it upon herself to drive the wrong way on the 60 freeway taking the lives of six people, including her sister.
The horrific accident scene was a carnage of wrecked vehicles and bloody bodies strewn across the westbound Pomona Freeway in Diamond Bar.
Alcohol was a factor in the wreck, leading to charges of felony DUI and six manslaughter counts against Culbreath.
She recently resurfaced in a court appearance to set her arraignment date where she was wheeled into the courtroom, handcuffed to her gurney and reportedly ridden with guilt.
She should be. What she did that day is inexcusable.
A March 26 L.A. Times story reports Culbreath is scared and grieving from the horrendous incident that early February morning when her life, and the lives of her victims and their families changed forever.
Culbreath reportedly had been celebrating the lifting of restrictions on her driver’s licence stemming from a previous DUI conviction and a number of traffic violations.
Many East Los Angeles College students are Culbreath’s age, or close to it, and this incident should serve as a wake-up call for those students who may be engaged in driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It’s just not worth it. Be responsible. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where you need to drive home in an impaired state of mind.
Call a taxi, a close friend or a relative for help.
There is no shame in this and if you find yourself in a bad spot like Culbreath’s riders, do whatever it takes to stop them.
And what about her passengers?
The two other passengers in the car apparently didn’t have one functioning brain cell between them that night because neither tried to stop her from committing the biggest mistake of her life. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I were in a car being driven by a crazed and drunken individual, the moment he or she made a move to enter a freeway through an exit, I would have done something.
You step on the brakes, slam the transmission into park, reach for the ignition, punch them in the face, anything to save your life and the lives of others.
The legal system is allowing repeat offenders such as Culbreath regain her driving privileges putting all California drivers in harm’s way.
The flaws in the system are many, but the blame for this horrendous incident lies firmly on Culbreath’s shoulders.
Society has to do a better job of keeping people like her off the road before a tragedy such as this destroys more lives.
It is time for DUI to be classified a felony on first offense. No second chances.
If you’re caught driving drunk, you lose your license, it’s as simple as that.
Additionally, the process for regaining driving privileges must be more extensive.
We must get tougher on drunken drivers.
Maybe then it will be safe to drive California streets without the fear of having a mindless person ruin our lives.