WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A woman has been arrested 10 months after a West Valley City crash that left one victim, Carol Galentine, dead at the scene.
Cristal Erica Garcia, 30, out of Salt Lake City, was charged Monday with manslaughter (second degree felony), leaving the scene of an accident involving death (third degree felony), obstructing justice (third degree felony), and multiple other charges related to reckless driving.
West Valley City Police originally arrested Jair Ivan Bautista, 28, after he tried fleeing the scene of the fatal car crash. After investigation including forensic evidence, police now believe Bautista was the passenger in the accident.
The deadly crash reportedly happened near 3600 West Parkway Blvd. just before 6:20 p.m. on Feb. 23.
Upon arrival, police found Galentine already deceased inside her vehicle, sitting in the driver’s seat. Police noted the suspect, Bautista, was located outside of his car about 50 yards away.
An eyewitness told police that Bautista approached them, asking them to drive him away from the crime scene. He reportedly told them he “needed to leave.”
During police questioning, Bautista told officers that the driver had left, but “was not being very descriptive with directions,” according to a declaration of probable cause.
As police tried apprehending him, he was reportedly very uncooperative and “belligerent,” refusing to follow orders while attempting to leave the scene. Officers noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from Bautista’s breath during his arrest.
Now, almost a year later, police say forensic evidence including DNA from the driver side airbag and a “well-preserved handprint” from the inside windshield above the steering wheel show that Garcia was the driver in the incident. Court documents state that the windshield was cracked at the center of Garcia’s handprint.
Officers responded to Garcia’s home to speak with her about the crash, and Garcia told police that Bautista was “driving stupid” and drove through the red light, striking another car.
Garcia stated that she “got scared and left” following the accident, heading to an apartment complex nearby.
Police detectives informed Garcia that forensic evidence pointed to her as the driver. Garcia told police, “I saw the red light. I thought we were going to make it.” Camera footage of the area allegedly shows that the light had been red for 35 seconds prior to the accident.
Garcia allegedly admitted that she was drunk during the time of the accident. Officers also confirmed that Garcia did not have a driver’s license, and that her learner’s permit was expired at the time of the accident.
Bautista was charged with intoxication, interference with an arresting officer and not stopping at the command of an officer.
Garcia was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on the charges previously stated.