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Ryan Karr, driver in fatal 2007 crash, pleads not guilty to new charges

  • Ryan Karr in 2010. (PD FILE, 2010)

A Windsor man convicted three years ago in a Highway 101 crash that killed five family members pleaded not guilty Friday to new charges stemming from a police pursuit alleged to have occurred near Santa Rosa Junior College late last year.

Ryan O'Dell Karr, 32, on parole for the fatal 2007 rear-end crash, is accused of evading arrest, reckless driving, hit and run, obstructing officers, driving on a suspended license and vandalism in the Dec. 2 incident.

Police said they attempted to contact Karr after spotting him sitting behind the wheel of a pickup in the parking lot of a Burger King on Mendocino Avenue. Officers said he and a woman passenger fled, breaking a chain across the parking lot entrance and fleeing down the street at high speed.

The pursuit was called off for safety reasons, but police were able to trace the truck by its license plate and identification from the passenger.

They searched Karr's Windsor home but could not find him. He remained at large for about seven months.

Karr was arrested July 20 at a Petaluma rap concert after police received a tip on his whereabouts.

He formally denied the charges Friday. A trial was set for Aug. 16 before Judge Patrick Broderick.

Also, Karr was being held on a warrant in a separate domestic violence case.

In 2010, Karr was sentenced to four years in prison for the Jan. 19, 2007 crash that happened in rush-hour traffic north of Santa Rosa. Prosecutors said he was under the influence of drugs when he slammed the back of a Honda Civic in his car.

Killed were Edith Carlos Medina, 23; her son, Fernando Flores Carlos, 7; her grandmother, Maria Lopez Camacho, 54; and her aunt Almadelia Mendera-Basurto, 16, all of Windsor; and her aunt Carmina Solorio, 23, of Mexico.

Medina's then 4-year-old son, Christian Flores, was pulled from the flames and suffered burns over 70 percent of his body and lost part of his leg, arm and an ear.

(You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.)

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