GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) — A Grass Valley family is demanding answers after learning the man suspected of crashing into their 56-year-old mother on New Year’s Eve was involved in a similar crash three years ago.
Raymond Poquette, 80, is now under arrest and facing a murder charge.
The victim, Jana Price, was a mother of four and a Camp Fire survivor. Her son-in-law says she was coming home from her job at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital the night she was killed.
California Highway Patrol says Poquette crashed his motorhome head-on into Price’s Nissan Altima near Cerrito Road and Highway 49 on New Year’s Eve. One other driver was also hurt in the crash.
According to investigators, Poquette was involved in a similar head-on crash in 2017 with another RV in Grass Valley. Larry and Bonnie Kaye were air-lifted to trauma centers but survived the crash. Their family said the couple had planned to spend their retirement traveling the country.
Records reveal that the CHP did file charges after the 2017 crash, but the DA decided not to prosecute, despite Poquette’s lengthy criminal history.
In the wake of overwhelming chaos, Price’s son-in-law Raymond Farmer says the family is confident justice will be served in this case.
“[We] went through stages of disbelief, shock, anger, and we’ve been here at my house spreading out pictures and telling stories,” he said.
Those stories center around Price, a devoted mother, grandmother and front-line worker at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital.
“She got off work at 11 and headed home, so it wasn’t uncommon for her not to talk to anyone at night after work,” Farmer said.
Price’s family says they’re still in shock and are also angry.
“We’re hoping that between the CHP and all the other investigators and the district attorneys that they will really look at this guy and figure out why he was out there again and make it so justice is served for Jana,” Farmer said.
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Dating back to 1993, Poquette’s court records reveal vehicle-related crimes and concerns about his mental health, including a 2009 police chase that ended with a spike strip. Court records cite behavioral health. Porquette was given jail time, a fine and supervised probation, which records show he later violated.
“We just can’t believe he almost did this to a family a couple of years ago,” Farmer said. “It’s the exact same situation and unfortunately, this time it was worse.”
There have been at least five more vehicle-related incidents since the 2017 RV crash, including a reckless driving case early last year which was suspended pending a mental competency evaluation.
Yet 10 months later, Poquette still had a valid license during the fatal New Year’s Eve crash.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh says they were shocked to learn the Department of Motor Vehicles had not revoked his license while the case was pending.
“DMV usually does that automatically,” Walsh said.
In regard to the 2017 crash that the DA chose not to prosecute, Walsh says it was likely intentional as well.
“Looking back to that 2017 incident, that clearly was an intentional act,” he said.
The District Attorney says the decision to charge Poquette with murder is, in part, an effort to prevent him from bailing out during the pandemic and hurting anyone else.
The DMV did not get back to CBS13 on why the agency did not revoke his license.