An elderly Oakmont woman was charged Tuesday with felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hours after an 85-year-old woman she plowed into last week at the Santa Rosa subdivision died at a hospital.
Gayle Gray, 77, wore a black coat and scarf over a blue blouse while standing before Judge Arthur A. Wick in court Tuesday. She postponed entering a plea to the charges against her as her son and daughter looked on.
Hours earlier, Jackie Simon, 85, succumbed to injuries she suffered six days ago in the crash near the Oakmont Village Market. Her death forced a delay in court proceedings Tuesday while prosecutors scrambled to rework the charges against Gray, who is out on bail.
Simon and 91-year-old Josephine Ross were strolling on the sidewalk along Oakmont Drive last Wednesday when Gray shot out of the market parking lot and plowed into the two women, according to police. The pair were thrown onto the hood of Gray’s white Lexus and carried up to 20 feet before sprawling onto the asphalt.
Gray, who told police she inadvertently hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, continued driving across four lanes of traffic and a median — knocking over a metal directional sign — before striking a dirt berm and a chain-link fence and finally coming to a stop. Police estimated she traveled a total distance of about 90 feet.
While people rushed to the women’s aid, Gray did not get of her car until ordered to do so by police. She told officers that she had been distracted by a Jack Russell terrier that rode in the car with her.
Simon’s son, Steve Friedman, declined comment Tuesday, except to say his mother’s death “obviously is a tragedy.”
“We’ll let the process take care of itself,” he said of the legal proceedings.
Ross, who previously was released from the hospital, is still recuperating from her injuries, according to a family member’s post on social media.
Authorities suspect Gray was under the influence of both alcohol and prescription medication at the time of the fatal collision. She has a prior conviction for DUI, in 2002, according to police.
Gray faces a total of two felonies in the current case, as well as several enhancements that could add to her punishment if she is convicted. She is scheduled to enter a plea Feb. 4.
Gray is in “shock” over the incident, said her attorney, Steve Gallenson.
“She’s devastated by this and she feels terrible for (Simon’s) family,” he said.
Gray initially appeared in court Tuesday morning.
At a prosecutor’s request, Judge Wick had agreed to postpone the arraignment for one week. But news of Simon’s death apparently caused prosecutors to quickly change direction.
As Gray and family members were leaving the courtroom, prosecutor Tashawn Sanders arrived and asked the judge to reschedule the case for later that day. Wick agreed and Gray was ordered to return to court at 1:30 p.m.
Gray already had posted bail of $100,000 to remain free. Wick raised that amount by another $100,000.
The judge did not restrict her driving, but he imposed several conditions, including that Gray abstain from drinking and wear an ankle bracelet that can detect alcohol.