Update: Brian Burchfield has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A 21-year-old Yorba Linda woman died in a head-on crash in Orange County, which officials say was possibly caused by two people driving under the influence. According to a news article in The Orange County Register Ashley Knight was a passenger in one of the cars, a 2002 Honda Civic being driven by 23-year-old Samira Bahu.
Investigators, who sifted through evidence at the crash site for nine hours, say Brian Burchfield, 22, of Irvine, was driving his Toyota Tacoma and going the wrong way on the 22 Freeway. Bahu was trying to merge on to the 22 from the 55 Freeway when Burchfield crashed head-on into the Civic, the Register article stated.
Both Bahu and Burchfield reportedly suffered critical injuries. And both were also placed under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. Knight, who was riding with Bahu, died at the scene.
This is a sad story yet again about young adults driving while intoxicated. In this case, it cost one woman her life. It cost Ashley Knight’s family and friends her love, companionship and presence in their lives. It will cost the other two, if it is determined that they were in fact intoxicated, a felony conviction, jail time and the financial accountability to Knight’s family that follows.
Based on what’s been reported in this article, the California Highway Patrol seems to have done a thorough job of investigating the accident to determine fault and liability. Hopefully, the 22-year-old Burchfield was not intoxicated and he was not a contributing factor in this accident. But, if it is determined that he was over the legal limit for driving, even if he wasn’t otherwise responsible for the accident, he may be facing felony vehicular manslaughter charges and significant jail time.
Let this tragic auto accident send a message to all drivers: “Do not drink and drive.” Don’t do it even if you think you’re fine, in control and can make it home safe. It’s just not worth it.