NEVADA CITY (CBS13) – A deadly ATV accident on Saturday left one woman dead and another behind bars. Investigators say the driver was under the influence of alcohol when the vehicle flipped and killed one of the passengers.
“They were just having a party, and all that commotion came, and someone was obviously hurt,” said Lela Hubbard, who lives on Lower Colfax Road.
She was nearby on Saturday afternoon when she saw the California Highway Patrol, a fire truck and an ambulance rush down her street.
“I only just recently found out that someone died,” Hubbard said. “It’s pretty horrible, it’s pretty sad.”
Antonette Thevenin, 31, was riding on an ATV with friends when it flipped over and landed on top her. She was airlifted to the hospital where she later died.
The driver was Carlee D’Rata, 29. According to the CHP, she had twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system. Investigators say D’Rata left the scene but was later arrested at her home for felony DUI and second-degree murder.
Stephen Munkelt, a criminal attorney based in Nevada City, said that making a murder charge stick in a case like this is hard to do.
“That’s unusual in this kind of situation,” he told CBS 13. “The most common charge and outcome in that situation would be a vehicular manslaughter charge.”
Munkelt says to make a case, the district attorney would have to prove gross negligence—that the driver did something dangerous that no reasonable person would do. Furthermore, to elevate that to a murder charge, the DA would have to establish malice.
“Which requires an almost conscious sense of wrongdoing at the time you do an act, that is likely to result in death,” Munkelt said.
CHP Officer Greg Tassone said D’Rata has a prior history of DUI Activity, which could help the DA build a stronger case for the murder charge.
“ATVs are super dangerous,” Hubbard said. “You need to be really careful when you’re on one!”
D’Rata was arrested and booked on Saturday but released from Nevada County Jail Wednesday evening. She has not yet been formally charged by the Nevada County District Attorney. CHP is taking the lead on the investigation and says it’s very complex and still ongoing.
Nevada County District Attorney’s office is working with the victim’s family and CHP to decide what’s next for D’Rata.