The 18-year-old Rohnert Park driver who killed a 2-year-old child and seriously injured her mother when she struck the pair as they walked in a crosswalk now faces a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said Monday.
Kaitlyn Dunaway, a freshman at Sonoma State University, was text messaging on her cell phone when she struck Calli Murray and her mother Ling Murray, who were crossing Snyder Lane, Ravitch said.
Investigators believe Dunaway was also driving at an unsafe speed and failed to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk, Ravitch said.
"I can't get into the facts of the case, but she's alleged to have committed the charge in that she unlawfully and without malice killed this human being," Ravitch said.
Dunaway could face a maximum yearlong jail sentence plus probation if convicted, Ravitch said. She was cited by letter to appear in Sonoma County Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to face the charge. She was not arrested.
News of the charge brought some measure of relief to the Murrays, said Al Andres, the toddler's grandfather.
"It's a step toward resolution for all involved," said Andres, who traveled to Rohnert Park from his home in Hartley, Del. so that he can attend Thursday's hearing.
Dunaway was behind the wheel of a 1997 Honda at about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 when she struck the mother and child, Rohnert Park Public Safety Department officials said.
Ling Murray held her child's hand as they walked through the crosswalk at Medical Center Drive, according to police.
Dunaway was traveling south on Snyder Lane when she struck them, police said. Calli Murray died at the scene.