Truck driver faces 6 counts of vehicular manslaughter

Law enforcement personnel examine a vehicle involved in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 that killed six people. Photo courtesy of Rick McClure


A commercial truck driver was charged Thursday with the deaths of two women and four children killed last summer when the truck crashed into their disabled van on Interstate 5, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Richard Lopez, 70, of Walnut, faces six misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter and one misdemeanor count of failing to comply with California Highway Patrol rules regarding hours of service for drivers, DA spokesman Ricardo Santiago said Thursday.

Lopez appeared Thursday in San Fernando Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty to the charges, he said.

He was scheduled to return to court on Aug. 4 for a pretrial hearing.

Connie Wu Li, 33, Flora Kuang, 33, Jayden Li, 5, Lucas Li, 3, Sky Ng, 4, and Venus Ng, 2, were in a van from Daly City that broke down and was partially blocking the right lane near Gorman School Road on June 28, 2016, prosecutors said Thursday.

When the tractor trailer Lopez was driving crashed into the van, it erupted in flames and went down an embankment, they said.

According to the criminal complaint, the driver had not rested the legally mandated 10 hours after allegedly driving for more than 15 hours.

If convicted as charged, Lopez faces a possible maximum sentence of six years in jail, Santiago said.

Two others were injured in the three-vehicle crash.

The three vehicles involved in the crash were described as a silver-colored minivan, a Toyota Sienna and a BMW, according to the CHP.

Two patients were airlifted from the scene by helicopter to an area hospital, Inspector Gustavo Medina of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said at the time of the crash.

The case remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

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