Woman Pleads Guilty in Deadly Freeway Crash

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POMONA (CNS) - A Santa Clarita woman pleaded guilty today to charges stemming from a wrong-way collision in a stolen pickup truck that crashed into four vehicles on the Foothill (210) Freeway in Claremont and left one man dead and several others injured in 2018.  

Nicole Danielle Thibault, 32, was immediately sentenced to 30 years and eight months in state prison following her plea to one count each of voluntary manslaughter and grand theft auto, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and eight counts of attempted murder, according to Deputy District Attorney Phil Stirling.  

The sentence also included a lifetime ban of Thibault's driving privileges, along with a $20,000 restitution order and a waiver of her appellate rights, the prosecutor said.  

Thibault stole a parked Ford F-150 in San Bernardino on Jan. 22, 2018, then drove through red lights and at unsafe speeds before entering the 210 Freeway, where she drove westbound in the eastbound lanes for about 20 miles before the head-on collision that killed Daniel Castillo, 69, of Fontana, authorities said.  

The 2011 pickup truck was reported to have been taken about 3:25 p.m. that day -- with the owner's 2-year-old son inside the vehicle -- near a 7- Eleven store on Highland Avenue and H Street, according to the California Highway Patrol. The youngster was subsequently dropped off at Temple and H streets.  

About 3:45 that afternoon, CHP dispatchers ``received numerous calls of a wrong-way driver traveling westbound on the eastbound lanes of SR-210, within the center median shoulder,'' according to the agency.  

``Responding CHP units attempted to get into position; however, a pursuit was never initiated. As the Ford F-150 continued traveling (the) wrong way within the center median of SR-210, for unknown reasons it veered into incoming traffic and collided with four vehicles ... east of Mills Avenue in the city of Claremont,'' according to a CHP statement. ``It is unclear where the Ford F-150 entered the freeway and why the suspect was driving (the) wrong way.''  

All eastbound lanes were closed for several hours while an investigation was conducted.  

Thibault -- who was among those injured in the crash -- was arrested Feb. 1, 2018, by the CHP and has remained jailed since then in lieu of $8 million bail, according to jail records.

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