Crime, Fire + Courts

Coroner: High-speed driver had alcohol, drugs in system

By From page A10 | March 06, 2012

WOODLAND — The woman who sped down a Woodland street before crashing into a tree last month was under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, Yolo County coroner’s officials disclosed Monday.

Vanessa Marie Del Toro, 20, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.126 — above the state’s legal driving limit of 0.08 — when her Range Rover veered across College Street and struck a tree in a residential front yard, Chief Deputy Coroner Robert LaBrash said.

In addition to the alcohol, Del Toro had methamphetamine, amphetamines and marijuana in her system, LaBrash said, quoting the results of toxicology tests performed following the Feb. 13 crash.

“It’s definitely a contributing factor,” LaBrash said of the drug/alcohol combination. Of the substances that were in Del Toro’s system, the alcohol and the methamphetamine were most significant, he added.

Police have said Del Toro was driving at a high rate of speed when Woodland Police Chief Dan Bellini spotted her Range Rover on southbound College near Pendegast Street shortly after 4 p.m. Bellini followed the speeding vehicle but lost sight of it when the driver ran a red light at Gibson Road.

The vehicle continued southbound on College Street, where police say the sport-utility vehicle may have been traveling as fast as 80 mph when it veered across the northbound traffic lane and hit a tree in the front yard of 1617 College St.

A neighbor, Harlan McAnelly, described the impact as sounding “like a tornado.” The force of the crash sent broken glass and vehicle parts into his front yard, along with the Range Rover’s battery, which tore a hole through a wooden fence separating the two front yards.

The SUV also struck a mailbox that dented the rain gutter of a home two doors away. Neighbors doused a fire that started when the vehicle’s gas tank ruptured.

Del Toro, a Woodland resident, died at the scene of blunt-force chest injuries, coroner’s officials said.

The incident remains under investigation by the Woodland Police Department and the California Highway Patrol, but detectives are having trouble contacting some potential witnesses, Woodland police Sgt. Steve Guthrie said.

“They’re trying to get ahold of the people who last saw her,” Guthrie said, adding that he’s “not certain” whether those witnesses are being uncooperative or are simply difficult to reach.

“We would love to speak with anyone who saw (Del Toro) before the accident. That would be especially helpful,” Guthrie said.

Anyone with information who has not yet been interviewed by police is asked to call (530) 661-7800 or (530) 666-2411 after business hours.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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