A pregnant woman from Clovis pleaded not guilty to felony charges of driving drunk and vehicular manslaughter Tuesday after she slammed into a Hummer on Highway 41 near Road 200, killing a man from Lemoore.
She could also face a murder charge, the Madera County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Around 9:50 p.m. May 20, Candice Ooley, 23, was traveling northbound in a white 2014 Chevrolet Cruze sedan when she crashed into the rear of a red 2006 Hummer H3.
The impact caused the driver, Mauricio Lourenco, 40, to lose control as the Hummer barreled off the highway’s eastern side at least 100 feet. The vehicle rolled and crashed into a rocky area, killing passenger Frederico Nunez Silva, 47.
Ooley, traveling alone, was not injured and was arrested on two felony charges of driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter causing great bodily injury, and driving on a suspended license from a DUI conviction in December. She missed a court appearance in Bass Lake last week related to that charge, District Attorney David Linn said.
Later reports indicated Ooley is about six months pregnant. Linn said she had a blood alcohol level of 0.32, four times the legal limit, and a fight with her boyfriend in Clovis may have led to her getting behind the wheel while drinking. She was booked in Madera County Jail around 4 a.m. Saturday on $155,000 bail. Her bail was raised May 24 to $250,000.
Linn said Ooley could be charged with murder depending on what his investigators find out.
“My office will be researching the possibility of amending the complaint and charging murder,” Linn said. “Specific requirements of knowledge on the part of the defendant are required to make this charge.”
Such requirements could include having to prove Ooley knew when she got behind the wheel a DUI crash could lead to a murder charge, if someone died.
The Fresno Bee reported investigators are searching for any DUI convictions in other counties, which could lead to a murder charge as Ooley could have been warned of such an outcome by a judge.
Lourenco, passengers Juana Pineda, 40, and Louisa Pamplona, 48, all from Lemoore, sustained minor to major injuries such as fractured bones, and were transported to area hospitals for treatment. Pineda and Pamplona were released from Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where Lourenco remained in fair condition Monday.
The wreck remains under investigation.
If found guilty of vehicular manslaughter with great bodily injury, Ooley will face 13 to 15 years in state prison. If found guilty of murder, Ooley could face 20 to 25 years behind bars.