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Tesla Driver Charged with Manslaughter in Canyon Crash

More than seven months after an early morning collision on Laguna Canyon Road that killed two men, the Orange County District Attorney’s office criminally charged Laguna Beach resident and physician Robert McFarland Pettis, 48, with three felonies stemming from the accident.

At a court hearing on Monday, Nov. 18, the court continued the arraignment until Dec. 19 at the request of Dr. Pettis’ attorney. Bail was set at $100,000 and was posted, a spokesman said. Deputy District Attorney Anna McIntire, of the homicide unit, is prosecuting this case.

Pettis, driving his Tesla Model S northbound on Laguna Canyon Road on April 2, is accused of speeding and crossing the double yellow lines and driving into oncoming traffic in the southbound lanes, according to the statement released by the district attorney’s office on Friday, which followed a months-long investigation.

Pettis crashed head on into a Honda Accord at about 6:40 a.m., killing 47- year-old driver Alberto Casique and his passenger, 38-year-old Armando Gonzalez. If convicted, Pettis faces a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison.

Pettis was charged with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one felony count of driving the wrong way on a divided highway causing death, and sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily harm, the statement says.

Both of the victims worked for Laguna Beach’s Stewart’s Landscaping at the time of the crash. Owner Liza Stewart said the crash and its aftermath “has been very hard on all involved, but not as much as the victims’ families. I can’t imagine what they have been going through,” she said. “Their lives have been changed forever; just thinking about it brings me to tears, still to this day.”

 

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