Disabled vet pleads guilty in vehicular death
Published - 02/05/15 - 08:24 AM | 4631 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A disabled Air Force veteran pleaded guilty Monday, Feb. 2 to gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of prescription drugs in the death of a Pacific Beach man in a crash on La Jolla Village Drive.

The motorist, Soranon Booppanon, 40, admitted to responsibility in the Oct. 23, 2013 crash that killed George Matteson, 77, and seriously injured his wife, Betty Matteson, 74.

Booppanon could be sentenced to up to seven years in state prison, according to the plea agreement signed by the attorneys and San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Walsh. Sentencing was set for April 27.

Booppanon was driving to the Veterans Hospital when she ran a red light and struck two cars and a truck at the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive and Genesee Avenue. She was taking a strong painkiller, a tranquilizer and other medications.

Booppanon, who requires a walker, no longer drives and remains at home under house arrest. Due to her disability, a sentence of probation is possible.

The police officer at the scene of the crash testified Booppanon repeatedly wanted to call her pastor and pray with him.

“I did kill George Matteson while driving…,” she wrote with her attorney's help, “and the death was the proximate result of an unlawful act with gross negligence, and I personally inflicted great bodily injury upon Betty Matteson.”

Booppanon's attorney, G. Cole Casey, said Booppanon served in the Air Force for 14 years and that her disability was directly related to her military service. Casey added Booppanon was “beyond remorseful.”

Alcohol was determined not to be a factor in the crash.

– Neal Putnam

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