A Santa Clarita Valley woman, described by local sheriff’s deputies as a transient in recent arrest logs, was identified Tuesday morning as the suspect in a deadly wrong-way driving crash that claimed the life of a man, and injured two others.
Nicole Thibault, 28, of Santa Clarita, was named by California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez as the woman believed to have carjacked a truck in Riverside Monday afternoon. The truck later crashed on the 210 freeway in Claremont.
The 69-year-old man killed in Monday’s fatal wrong-way driving crash lived in Fontana. Two other drivers, a 58-year-old Fontana woman who suffered moderate injuries, and a 58-year-old Upland man, were also injured in the crash.
The stolen truck was traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway when it veered into oncoming traffic, colliding with at least four other vehicles.
“The suspect suffered major injuries,” Jimenez told The Signal Tuesday morning, noting the woman remained in hospitalized.
“Whenever she regains consciousness, we’ll have to talk to her and get her statement.” he said.
Events leading up to Monday’s fatal crash began in Riverside.
At 3:25 p.m. Monday, officers with the San Bernardino Police Department responded to reports of a carjacking in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven convenience store, Jimenez said.
Inside the Ford F-150 truck was a 2-year-old boy strapped into a car seat. When the truck’s owner located the suspect, he took a bystander’s car and began following her, Jimenez said.
The pursuing father, however, lost sight of the woman driving his truck with his son still inside the vehicle.
A short time later, San Bernardino Police officers received word that the 2-year-old boy in a car seat had been spotted on a sidewalk.
The woman dropped the boy off unharmed, Jimenez said. Units safely recovered the child.
At 3:45 p.m., San Bernardino Police notified the California Highway Patrol of the carjacking.
Although there have been numerous news reports of a police chase, there was never a pursuit initiated, Jimenez said.
The stolen truck was spotted traveling at a high rate of speed westbound in the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway, driving toward motorists, inside the center median’s left shoulder.
“As the F-150 continued traveling the wrong way, for some unknown reason why, she veered into oncoming traffic and hit four other vehicles,” he said.
The resulting crash involved five vehicles. The 69-year-old Fontana man behind the wheel of a 2008 Honda Accord that sustained extensive front end damage was pronounced dead at the scene, Jimenez said.
The suspect, Nichole Thibault, was arrested twice in the Santa Clarita Valley, most recently for a traffic offense two weeks ago, arrest records show.
On Jan. 2, the woman was arrested by deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station on suspicion of failing to appear in court on a traffic warrant, a misdemeanor.
Thibault was also arrested on Dec. 19 on suspicion of violating a section of California’s Health and Safety Code for allegedly being under the influence of a controlled substance.