REDWOOD CITY, California — A teenage driver charged with killing two members of the Tongan royal family and their driver after slamming into their car pleaded not guilty Friday to vehicular manslaughter.
Edith Delgado, 18, of Redwood City, was held in lieu of $3 million (euro2.35 million) bail after her arraignment in San Mateo County Superior Court on manslaughter and speeding charges.
Delgado, who received her driver’s license in February, was charged with killing Prince Tu’ipelehake, 56 and Princess Kaimana, 46, in the Wednesday night crash on Highway 101 in Menlo Park, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of San Francisco.
Vinisia Hefa, 36, of East Palo Alto, who was driving the red Ford Explorer carrying the prince and princess, also was killed, authorities said.
“This collision is extremely tragic,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti. “There was a loss of three innocent lives. They were just driving down the freeway minding their own business.”
Defense attorney Randy Moore described Delgado as a hardworking honors student and bank teller who was not necessarily culpable for the accident.
“My client is very sorry she was involved in this. It remains to be determined whether she bears any criminal responsibility for what took place,” Moore said. “Nobody has proven anything. There has only been accusations.”
If convicted of the three manslaughter counts, Delgado faces up to eight years in prison, a prosecutor said.
Delgado was driving her Ford Mustang as fast as 100 mph (160 kph) while racing another vehicle when she crashed into the driver’s side of Hefa’s car, causing it to swerve across several lanes before rolling on its roof, said California Highway Patrol Officer Ricky Franklin.
Delgado was not injured in the crash.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Tongan royal family at this time and also with the Delgados.