Mom Recalls Last Sound from Dying Daughter

A judge has sentenced a man to four years in prison for gross vehicular manslaughter after a woman was killed in a collision her mother watched take place.

"I remember running to her car, thinking not my Alex, "Pamela McKeirnan told the judge.  "I touched her and she was unconscious."

Melvin Pearles, 48, lost control of his car while speeding on state Route 67 near Ramona in March 2009. His Jaguar collided with several vehicles, one driven by 25-year-old Alexandria Drake, who died from her injuries. Drake's 3-month-old son Jayden was in the back seat of the vehicle.

"Her son cried from the back seat of her car and somewhere in the depth of pain and despair, she knew her son was alive and she let out a deep sob,"said McKeirnan.  "This is the last sound I heard from my daughter."

Drake, 25, was following her mom who was driving ahead in a separate car. The Jaguar first struck McKeirnan’s car, forcing it to spin around and face the opposite direction just in time for McKeirnan to see the car slam head-on into the car carrying her daughter and grandchild. The driver of the Jaguar was traveling between 75-100 mph at impact, officers said at the time.

Drake's car flipped onto the driver's side and struck a tree. The baby was in a car seat and unhurt, CHP officers said.

In court Tuesday, Drake's colleagues pinned orange ribbons on their clothes in support of the crash victim -- Drake used to work at Home Depot.

Drake's husband broke down into tears as he told the judge about the unbearable pain he continues to feel since his wife's death.  "I feel alone, sad and depressed,"Jay Drake said.

CHP officers testified during the trial that Pearles was driving at speeds of at least 80 mph in an effort to overtake a white BMW.  The driver of that vehicle was never found.

Pearles didn't speak during the hearing, but some of his supporters told the judge that he is extremely remorseful.

The judge could have given Pearles the maximum of six years in state prison, but gave him four instead.

"I wished we would have gone to trial, I think that would have given us more closure, but the judge passed his sentenced and I can live with that,"McKeirnan said outside the courtroom.

An attorney for Drake's family said they are planning to file a lawsuit against  Pearles and the state of California.

They believe state route 67 is too dangerous and the state hasn't done enough to make it safer.

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