A 27-year-old woman pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to driving under the influence and causing a car crash that killed three people and injured a fourth, all members of the same family, on May 31.
Hilda Flores cradled a broken left arm she sustained in the crash and turned away from media cameras as she entered her plea in Monterey County Superior Court. Judge Timothy Roberts asked her to speak up as she pleaded not guilty to three charges of vehicular manslaughter while impaired, four charges of causing great bodily injury and one charge of driving under the influence causing injury.
Last Friday, May 31, Flores was driving her Chevrolet Malibu the wrong way, heading southbound in the northbound lane, on San Miguel Canyon Road in Prunedale when she crashed head-on into a white Chevrolet HHR. Sisters Blanca Rangel and Maria Rangel and their cousin Manuela Torres were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Chevy, whose name has not been released, was taken to Natividad to be treated for severe injuries.
“I wish I knew why people continue to drink and drive, and not understand the dangerousness of their actions when there are so many other options and it’s avoidable,” said Deputy District Attorney Meredith Sillman outside of the courthouse.
The crash comes three days after Margot McNally was sentenced to prison for a 2018 car crash in Carmel Valley that killed her passenger and severely injured another driver; and also three days after Stewart Napier of Pacific Grove pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular manslaughter for a December 2018 car wreck that killed one man.
Relatives of the family members who died are raising money for funeral expenses and other costs. Teresa Rangel's daughter was the driver who was injured in the crash, according to a GoFundMe page. The sisters, Blanca and Teresa, along with their cousin, Martha Manuela Rangel Torres, were all on their way to work at the time of the accident, according to a GoFundMe page started by Vanessa Ruelas with a $12,000 fundraising goal.
"Our whole family is devastated," according to the page. "They both leave behind their families and small children."
A separate GoFundMe campaign launched by Jose Rangel is aiming to raise $6,000 toward memorial expenses for his aunt, Martha Rangel Torres.