Navy Man Guilty in Couple's Death

The married couple were on their daily walk in Valley Center July 7 when they were struck and killed by an oncoming car

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Earl Smith Jr., 20, appeared in court on Wednesday, July 10.

    A Navy man pleaded guilty to his role in the death of a Valley Center couple, struck by a car while out on their daily walk.

    Earl Smith, Jr., 21, of Oceanside was underage when he was arrested in the July 7 crash. On Wednesday, he entered a guilty plea of gross vehicular manslaughter.

    Couple Killed on Daily Walk

    [DGO] Couple Killed on Daily Walk
    Earl Smith, Jr of Oceanside was driving his Toyota Camry eastbound on Old Castel Road when the vehicle and collided with an elderly couple walking on the side of the roadway. The 79-year-old man and 78-year-old woman were killed instantly. NBC 7's Todd Stain reports.

    Smith was behind the wheel of the vehicle that struck Carl and Eunice Ackermann while they were on a morning walk along Old Castle Road near Mauka Drive.

    California Highway Patrol officials said Smith was driving a Toyota Corolla at an unknown speed when he drifted off the roadway and slammed into the couple. Prosecutors say he was looking at the GPS on a phone just before the crash.

    An hour and a half after the incident, Smith’s BAC was at .12, which prosecutors described as “well over the legal limit.”

    Smith’s friends told NBC 7 he was serving as a Seaman E3 and living on a local base at the time of the crash. He once played corner for Fallbrook Union High School’s football team friends said.

    When Smith is sentenced on Dec. 18, he faces up to 11 years in state prison.

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