Overdose suspected in death of Guerneville teen found in crashed car

The Guerneville teen whose body was found in the back seat of a car following a minor DUI crash in December likely died of an overdose involving fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug, authorities indicated.

Yadhira Carrillo Guzman, 14, identified by law enforcement officials for the first time this week, was found unresponsive tin the back seat of her 16-year-old friend’s Toyota Camry on Dec. 28 after the car had been involved in a reported hit and run crash on Piner Road, according to Santa Rosa police.

Carrillo Guzman was unconscious and not breathing and officers summoned medical help to the scene but were unable to revive the girl. She had already died, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Chris Mahurin said. He was unable to say what time she is thought to have died, including whether it was minutes or hours before the crash.

While the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office’s investigation into her death remains incomplete, toxicology results showed both alcohol and fentanyl in Carrillo Guzman’s system, indicating she likely died of an overdose, Mahurin said.

As of Tuesday, investigators were still piecing together how Carrillo Guzman came into contact with the dangerous intoxicant. Police have found no evidence to suggest she was forced to take the drug, he added.

No signs of trauma were found on her body when she was found in the car, Mahurin said at the time of her death

“I know that’s been one of the frustrations in the case, trying to figure out the timeline of events,” Mahurin said. “As of right now, we’re not seeing anything criminal that led up to her death other than the use of fentanyl and how she came to possess it.”

Carrillo Guzman’s mother declined to comment for this story Tuesday afternoon.

She was remembered in a GoFundMe fundraiser as the daughter of a single mom, a sister and a confident and curious person. The remembrance gave her name as Yadhira Mendoza Carrillo.

The teen driver, who has not been publicly named because she is a minor, was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI and hit-and-run the day of the crash and released to her parents, authorities said.

Blood tests taken at the time to determine if she was intoxicated are still pending, Mahurin said.

The new revelations in Carrillo Guzman’s death came as Santa Rosa Police Department’s narcotics investigators have reported the seizure of nearly 5 pounds of suspected fentanyl over the past few weeks, as well as nearly 3 pounds of “red rock” heroin, a substance commonly mixed with fentanyl.

The largest of the recent seizures happened Jan. 28, when narcotics officers served a search warrant for a south Santa Rosa man previously sentenced to jail after he was found selling drugs.

A search of his car and three cars he was linked to turned up 3.25 pounds of suspected fentanyl, 2.8 pounds of what appeared to be “red rock” heroin and 16 pounds of suspected methamphetamine.

More recently, Santa Rosa officers located on Monday nearly a pound of fentanyl during a traffic stop for a minor infraction on Santa Rosa Avenue near Yolanda Avenue.

Fentanyl is an opioid pain reliever known to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s used medically as a treatment for severe pain, such as that in the advanced stages of cancer. Most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm such as overdose and death have been tied to illicitly manufactured versions of the drug, the CDC said.

A lethal dose of the drug caused the deaths of a Santa Rosa man and his 13-month old son in September 2019, marking the youngest fentanyl-related death in Sonoma County, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Misti Wood said in an email Tuesday.

Three months later, federal prosecutors charged three Santa Rosa residents for their alleged role in supplying the fentanyl to the father after Santa Rosa police investigators forwarded them the case.

As part of their investigation, Santa Rosa detectives will try to determine how Carrillo Guzman came by the fentanyl and whether federal drug distribution charges apply, as was the case in the 2019 deaths, Mahurin said.

Anyone with information about the case can leave a crime tip at srcity.org/crimetips. The tip can be submitted anonymously.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

Nashelly Chavez

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat 

Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.