55-year-old Helen Corona Johnson was issued a warrant for her arrest on vehicular manslaughter charges under PC 191.5 (b), in which she killed Juan Mora in April of last year while driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, a violation under VC 23152(a), as well as speeding under VC 22350. The incident happened in a South San Jose residential neighborhood called San Ramon. $100,000 bail was set on April 17, 2014 during a brief court hearing appointing a public defender.
A traffic collision had been reported to the San Jose Police 9-1-1 dispatch center at 6:34 pm on Thursday April 18, 2013. Regular traffic was moving through the area with bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles, when from out of the corner of Juan Mora’s eye, a gold 1992 Lexus slammed into his body throwing him over the hood of the car, and then onto the windshield. Mora’s neck snapped as his head hit the top of the moon roof. With the driver slamming on her brakes and making a quick right turn, Mora’s body was then flung into the middle of the road, where he was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.
A neighbor nearby described the scene as he was walking east on Santa Rosa Way along the sidewalk. He said that as he saw Mora walk toward his car from across the roadway, and then saw a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed approach and strike him. The speed of the car caused his body to be lifted onto the car and then thrown out into the roadway. Witnesses ran to help him. One witnesses described seeing that his head was bleeding, and he was unconscious and not responding to anyone.
Medics soon arrived at the scene to treat the victim. They also treated the driver who had parked around the corner from the accident. A witness nearby said, “I heard this woman crying and repeatedly saying, ‘Oh my god, I hit someone!’”. The witness recalled her standing next to the garage near his home, but not really understanding what had just happened. Neighbors near the scene heard the accident, but there were few who had actually seen the collision. The driver, Helen Johnson, was transported to Regional Medical Center and treated for complaints of difficulty breathing and her chest hurting. Johnson was later released pending an investigation into the death of Mora. Her vehicle was towed from the scene for further investigation.
However, this was not the end of the investigation. Based on the evidence from witnesses and examination of the scene, it is suspected that Johnson was traveling significantly over the posted speed limit of 25 mph. The victim was wrapped onto the front of the vehicle and continued to slide up the hood and windshield. He hit the top right side of the moon roof and then tumbled to the ground. The Medical Examiner’s Office reported, “Multiple blunt force injuries with neck fracture”.
Johnson braked after the collision, making a right turn and then stopping near the curb on San Simeon way. She appeared to be under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. Johnson admitted to having two drinks. However Johnson also appeared to be under the influence of an illegal substance and or stimulant. While talking with officers, Johnson admitted to smoking “meth” several days prior to the incident. Due to her repeated body movement and fluttering eyelids, rapid speech, and constant swaying of her body, it was suspected that during the time of the accident Johnson was also under the influence of a stimulant often known as methamphetamine.
Johnson has been charged under CVC 23153 – driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causing injury, along with a basic speed violation under CVC 22350. The next court hearing is expected on May 29 at 9:00 am in front of the Honorable Shelyna V. Brown, located in Dept 34 in the San Jose Hall of Justice at 190 W. Hedding Street in San Jose.