The last thing Donald Kraft remembers was a loud crash. Then he blacked out.
When he regained consciousness moments later, the Chandler, Arizona man was staring out his windshield at a ditch.
In the passenger seat beside him was his girlfriend of six years, Lori Ryan, a 53-year-old satellite test engineer from Anthem, Arizona. The couple had been wine-tasting near Healdsburg.
She wasn’t moving. Blood trickled from her ear covering the console between them.
“I started to scream, ‘Help!’” Kraft testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for the man accused of crashing into their car on Los Amigos Road. “Please, someone help!”
Ryan was pulled from the crumpled Dodge Charger and rushed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where she remained in a coma for four days before dying.
Prosecutors charged two-time drunken driver Pablo Salinas Jacobo, 34, of Santa Rosa, with second-degree murder on grounds that he knew driving under the influence was dangerous to human life but did it anyway.
After hearing evidence that Jacobo had a blood alcohol level of more than two times the legal limit in the Nov. 8, 2015 crash, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Patrick Broderick ruled he could be tried on the charge carrying a 15-years-to-life sentence.
Broderick noted the fatality occurred less than four months after an ignition interlock device was removed from Jacobo’s red Ford Mustang following his second drunken driving conviction in 2012. The judge said the device was a “daily, constant reminder for a period of three years of the risks of drinking and driving.” And, the judge said, Jacobo had been driving on a suspended license.
“He knew his actions were dangerous, yet he got in and turned the key,” prosecutor Juliette Hyde told the court.
The ruling followed sometimes emotional testimony about the crash that killed Ryan — a Boeing engineer, triathlete and mother of two college-aged sons.
Kraft, an engineering technician, testified the couple was visiting Sonoma and Napa counties from Arizona and had been wine tasting at four or five wineries. They were driving from Christopher Creek Winery to Merriam Vineyards on Los Amigos Road when they were hit.
At the time, Ryan was giving Kraft driving directions.
“I remember just a loud crash,” Kraft said from the witness stand.
A CHP accident reconstruction concluded Kraft was turning left off Los Amigos Road into the winery driveway when Jacobo drove up from behind and tried to pass him.
Jacobo collided with another car leaving the winery before slamming into the back of Kraft’s car, sending it spinning into a ditch, CHP Officer Crandon Kopriva testified.
Kraft said he passed out temporarily. He opened his eyes to find he was inside his crashed car, side air bags deployed. A woman identifying herself as a doctor came to his window and told him to keep Ryan’s head from moving.
But Ryan never woke up. Kraft, who received a shoulder injury, remained at the hospital 24 hours a day until she died.
An autopsy concluded the cause was blunt force injury to her head.
Jacobo, who was injured in the crash, was also taken to a hospital. He told officers he drank a glass of bourbon after playing soccer at a Healdsburg park, Kopriva said.