A jury reached a guilty verdict Thursday in the trial of a San Diego woman accused of driving under the influence of methamphetamine and crashing into a group of bicyclists on Fiesta Island.
Theresa Owens, 50, faced felony charges of driving under the influence causing injury for the wrong turn she made on a one-way route around Fiesta Island on Aug. 12, 2014.
With Owens nervously staring at the jury, the group declared her guilty of driving under the influence of methamphetamine causing great bodily injury to many victims and of possession of meth.
In the chaotic crash, Owens’ vehicle struck multiple cyclists, paralyzing one and injuring nine others.
Some of those victims took the stand in Owens’ trial, recounting how the crash permanently scarred them – both emotionally and physically.
One of those victims is La Jolla father Juan Carlos Vinolo, who was hit and left paralyzed when Owens ran into his cycling group. Vinolo testified that the crash wrecked his life.
"My life is destroyed, everything is different," said Vinolo.
Prosecutors said lab results showed Owens tested positive for meth at the time of the collision. Prosecutors also said that at the time of Owens’ arrest, police said they found a bag of meth in her vagina.
Over the course of her trial, Owens’ attorney has argued that although Owens had meth in her system, her driving was not impaired by the drug at the time of the crash.
After the verdict was read Thursday, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto told NBC 7 she felt justice was served.
“The jury worked very hard on this case and they came up with a just verdict,” said Coto.
The prosecutor said the decision is a "step in the right direction" toward helping the victims of the crash begin their long healing process.
Coto said the verdict also send a strong message to drivers on San Diego's roadways.
“The public will not tolerate people getting high on drugs and getting behind the wheel of a car,” said Coto. “She changed lives forever, all because she wanted to get high.”
At her sentencing, Owens faces up to 18 years in prison. She will be sentenced Nov. 19.
The crash prompted the city of San Diego to improve signs and road safety in the area to prevent another incident.