Law enforcement officers testified Friday that a man charged in the deaths of five members of a family in a crash on Highway 101 last year had no alcohol in his system, but may have been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the collision.
Ryan Karr, 27, is charged with felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the Jan. 19, 2007, crash on Highway 101 near Airport Boulevard that killed five of six occupants of a Honda Civic. He also is charged with misdemeanor manslaughter charges that don't include the intoxication allegation.
The question of whether Karr was legally impaired -- enough to be unable to safely drive a car -- was the focus of testimony Friday afternoon in the second day of Karr's preliminary hearing.
The hearing will continue Monday before Judge Lawrence Antolini, who will determine if there is enough evidence to order Karr to stand trial on some or all of the charges.
Three women, a teenage girl and a boy died in the crash: Maria Lopez Camacho, 54; Almadelia Mendera-Basurto, 16; Edith Carlos Medina, 23; Fernando Flores Carlos, 7, all of Windsor; and Carmina Solorio, 23, of Mexico. The only survivor, Christian Flores Carlos, then 4, was severely burned.
Karr, who was not seriously injured in the crash, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on bail. Shortly after the collision, he told CHP officers he was momentarily distracted before his Mitsubishi Eclipse struck the Civic in which the family was traveling.
CHP Officer Heather Bushey testified Friday that although Karr tested at 0.00 percent on a blood-alcohol test conducted at the scene of the crash, she believed he was impaired because he had glassy eyes, gave varying answers and couldn't follow the multistep instructions in the six field-sobriety tests she administered.
Under questions from prosecutor Chuck Arden, she characterized Karr as "preoccupied" with his own facial injuries even after she told him people had died.
But on cross-examination from Karr's attorney, Andy Martinez, Bushey acknowledged that she didn't take into account the possibility that Karr was in shock, had bumped his head during the crash or may have had a concussion. Karr's airbag deployed during the crash, she said, and his car had front-end damage.
"Honestly, I don't know if part of it was the collision factor or not," she said.