Leslie Juarez, 27, of Laguna Beach, was arraigned Tuesday in the death of a motorcyclist and injury of another motorist, the district attorney’s office announced. A preliminary hearing was set for Aug. 2.
Juarez is charged with vehicular manslaughter, causing great bodily injury, and driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit in a March 29 chain-reaction collision on Interstate 405 in Irvine. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison due to sentencing enhancements.
In the 11:30 p.m. pile-up, Juarez is accused of speeding and swerving, slamming the passenger side of a vehicle driven by 21-year-old Joelle Friedlander. The impact of the collision sent Friedlander’s car over the center divider, disabling the engine and lights and onto the northbound side of the freeway in the two carpool lanes, prosecutors say. Friedlander was able to exit the car and run to the center median.
Two minutes later, a northbound motorcycle driven by 32-year-old JC Droege slammed into the disabled vehicle.
Droege was pronounced dead at the scene due to multiple blunt traumatic injuries. Friedlander was taken to Hoag Hospital in Irvine and was treated for a fractured ankle, bruises, and cuts.