A Petaluma man who narrowly survived a deadly crash on Lakeville Highway last month was released from the hospital this week and immediately arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter.
Jesse Cockrill, 25, was met by Petaluma police officers Monday at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, where he has been recovering for the past five weeks from major injuries in the June 7 crash. He was taken directly to the Sonoma County Jail, where he was held Tuesday on $485,000 bail.
Investigators believe Cockrill was drinking beer while driving his Lincoln LS on Lakeville Highway shortly after 10 p.m. on the night of the accident. His car swerved into oncoming traffic, crashing head-on into a Toyota Camry driven by Betty Osotonu, 65, of Vallejo, who was taking an 8-year-old relative home from a dance performance at their church.
Osotonu died in the wreck. The 8-year-old girl, who had been in the back seat, wasn’t seriously injured.
Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to cut Cockrill from his car.
Officers found an open 24-ounce can of beer in his smashed car and said they believe he was drinking while driving. A blood test indicated Cockrill had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit, investigators said.
While Petaluma police had an arrest warrant ready for Cockrill’s release from the hospital, they didn’t think it would occur Monday.
Earlier in the day, they’d been told by hospital officials the man wasn’t expected to be released for some time, Lt. Danny Fish said Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon, the hospital notified police that a new evaluation of Cockrill’s injuries indicated he could go, Fish said.
At the time of the crash, Cockrill was on probation from a prior conviction and his probation terms included that he not drink, police said.
The death was the first 2014 traffic-related fatality in Petaluma.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.