Driver arraigned in fatal crash of mother, 25

The driver of a car that crashed head-on into the vehicle of a former Ramona resident pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter that alleges he was speeding at approximately 80 mph on state Route 67.  Alcohol was not a factor in the incident.

Melvin Pearles, 48, of Ranchita, is charged with causing the death of Alexandria Drake, 25, whose vehicle was struck on Route 67 near Quail Rock Road around 11:15 a.m. on March 29. Drake’s son, then 1 month old, was also in the car but he was secured in a car seat and was uninjured.

The victim’s mother, Pamela McKeirnan, of Ramona, told KGTV (Channel 10) that Pearles privately apologized to her for her daughter’s death moments before he was arraigned in El Cajon Superior Court.

McKeirnan, the victim’s husband, and the baby were at the arraignment.

“My daughter is dead. The consequences are that his disregard for others resulted in my daughter being dead and my grandson growing up without a mother,” said McKeirnan to KGTV.

Drake used to live in Ramona, but had moved to Chula Vista as her husband worked as an assistant manager of a store in Otay Mesa.

Judge Charles Ervin ordered Pearles to surrender his driver’s license and told him not to drive as a condition of being released on his own recognizance. A July 22 preliminary hearing was set.

Because he was also injured in the crash and hospitalized, Pearles was never actually arrested. The lone felony charge was filed last week, said Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle.

Ervin ordered Pearles to be booked by the sheriff’s department and released.

Pearles drove a Jaguar, but witnesses said there was another car, a white BMW, that may have also been a factor in the crash. Some motorists at the time said it appeared Pearles may have been racing with the driver of the other white BMW, whose identity is unknown. The BMW driver drove off.

“The California Highway Patrol is still investigating,” said Doyle when asked about the other driver.

   
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