San Diego Woman Convicted in Fatal Distracted Driving Crash

Crash investigators said Jorene Nicolas was traveling about 80 mph before she crashed into the back of a car stopped in traffic on the 405 Freeway

A San Diego woman was distracted by her phone when she slammed into another car killing a popular high school softball coach, jurors said Thursday.

Jorene Nicolas of San Diego was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of 23-year-old Deanna Mauer in April 2011.

Nicolas, then 28, was traveling at least 80 mph when she crashed her Toyota Prius into the back of Mauer's Hyundai sedan on the 405 Freeway, according to crash investigators.

Traffic was at a near-standstill, but Nicolas was distracted by her cellphone and failed to notice, prosecutors argued.

She did not brake or slow before slamming into Mauer's vehicle, which was pushed into a Porsche in front of it, according to the district attorney's office. Nicolas then hit the freeway's center divider before coming to a stop, facing south in the northbound lanes.

Nicolas' attorney called the prosecutors' arguments flawed, referring to the crash as an accident.

Mauer, a star former softball player at Fountain Valley High School and coach at San Juan Hills High School, died at a hospital. She was wearing a seat belt.

Nicolas' first trial ended in the spring of 2014 with a deadlocked jury. 

Nicolas faces of up to six years in prison. She had the option of taking a plea deal that would have resulted in one year in prison.

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