Palmdale teen ordered to trial in fatal motorcycle crash

The fatal crash happened around 3:10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 on Elizabeth Lake Road, just east of Godde Hill Road. Jose Gutierrez was arrested at the scene. (Photos courtesy LUIS MEZA)

The fatal crash happened around 3:10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19 on Elizabeth Lake Road, just east of Godde Hill Road. Jose Gutierrez was arrested at the scene. (Photos courtesy LUIS MEZA)

LANCASTER – A 19-year-old Palmdale driver who slammed into a group of motorcyclists on Oct. 19 told investigators he sped around the curve intentionally because he was “pumped up” after overtaking several vehicles on the winding Elizabeth Lake road, according to witness testimony.

The testimony came Wednesday at the preliminary hearing for Jose Gutierrez, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter and three counts of reckless driving causing specified injury.  The charges stem from a head-on collision Oct. 19 on Elizabeth Lake Road that killed 58-year-old Oxnard resident Peter Volden and critically injured three others.

58-year-old Oxnard resident Peter Volden was killed in the collision.

58-year-old Oxnard resident Peter Volden was killed in the collision.

Gutierrez was driving a 2001 Infiniti G20 eastbound on the two-lane road when he lost control of his car, veered into the oncoming lane, and crashed head-on into three westbound motorcycles, according to a California Highway Patrol report.

At Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, CHP officers and the three injured victims – Danny Rincon, Richard and Patricia McBee – gave testimony on the moments before and after the crash.

She and her husband were on the last bike in a group of seven motorcycles headed home after a picnic at Devil’s Punchbowl, testified a now wheelchair-bound Patricia McBee.

“[Gutierrez] was hauling, enough to make me notice he was speeding around that corner,” Patricia McBee said, when asked about the speed of the oncoming car.

Danny Rincon (far left), Patricia McBee (second from right), and Richard McBee (far right) testified at the preliminary hearing Dec. 4.

Danny Rincon (far left), Patricia McBee (second from right), and Richard McBee (far right), shown with Volden (second from left). The three injured victims testified at a preliminary hearing Dec. 4.

“I saw the car swerve and I knew then that we were in trouble,” Patricia McBee testified. She said she remembered being struck and thrown over the car.

“Through my helmet I could see things tumbling,” she said, adding that she was fully conscious when she hit the ground.

“It knocked the wind out of me so bad, and I thought I was gonna die because I couldn’t breathe,” Patricia McBee testified.

Richard McBee said he did not remember being struck by the car, but he remembered being face up on the ground with his wife lying across his legs at a 90-degree angle. He was on the road for about 15 minutes, only able to move his finger and toes, before help came, Richard McBee testified.

The third victim, Danny Rincon, said he remembered a car speeding around the corner and crossing into their lane after a “series of overcorrections.” Rincon said there was no time for him to react, and he could only close his eyes and flinch.

“I thought it was my moment,” Rincon testified.

CHP Officer K. Wheeler said he interviewed Gutierrez after the crash. The teen said he had passed four vehicles before the crash, and he was “pumped up” after having passed the vehicles, Wheeler testified.

Gutierrez told investigators he was traveling about 75 miles per hour, he had intentionally passed cars prior to the crash, and he had intentionally sped around the corner, Wheeler testified. The teen also told investigators he had his driver’s license for approximately one year and friends had warned him about speeding in the past, Wheeler testified.

Gutierrez’s defense attorney argued that some of the charges should be reduced or dismissed based on his client’s inexperience behind the wheel and the fact that Gutierrez could not have foreseen the crash.

Judge Christopher Estes denied the motion and ordered Gutierrez to stand trial on all charges. A second arraignment on the case is set for Dec. 20. If convicted as charged, Gutierrez faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison.

Previous related stories:

Teen charged with manslaughter in motorcycle crash

1 dead, three injured in motorcycle group crash

  17 comments for “Palmdale teen ordered to trial in fatal motorcycle crash

  1. Jasan W
    January 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Although he admits to reckless driving, his actions prove that he couldn’t be responsible enough to have a drivers licence. Driving is a privilege, not a right. And this is just another example of how powerful driving a vehicle can be.

  2. Susan K
    December 10, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Justice without mercy…is just plain cruel. This is a 19 year old kid….who made a mistake. Maybe we could teach our children how to be the change you want to see in the world


    • sikntired
      December 10, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      His mistake took a life and seriously injured others.Can you change that?

  3. Bob
    December 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    If he killed one of my loved ones I’d want him locked up for every..

  4. Thankyou
    December 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Thank you Jose Gutierrez for being honest about your actions. Hopefully you learned a huge lesson. Some of your friends seem not to have learned yet, maybe you can explain to them exactly what you did wrong and how you plan to change after this life altering event.

    • TRI
      December 7, 2013 at 7:56 am

      To bad he had to kill someone to hopefully learn a huge lesson.

  5. Jason Zink
    December 5, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Need Drivers Education back in high school it is the number one killer for kids and hurts us.

    I’ve been saying this for twenty years. Its Crazy we send them to get an education and pay taxes and we don’t teach them anything about life what a waste.

    • Augustine De La Cruz
      December 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Life is taught by parents not by schools. Seems society has forgotten this part about parenting. The child is the parent’s responsibility. Yes, Driver’s Education would help young adults in better understanding the rules of the road but it is the parent who teaches how to use common sense and consideration for the lives of others.

  6. Tee
    December 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Drop charges because of his “lack” experience? His lack of experience should have told him to SLOW DOWN dummy instead of letting his ego take over. So if a nurse gives a patient the wrong meds is she/he excused because of lack of experience due to only being a nurse for 1yr? SMH at the ignorance. He was fully AWARE of what he was doing and admitted it AND friends warned him in the past. Why was tax payers money in a trial? Enough said, SENTENCE HIM! !

  7. TuleñodePalmdale
    December 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Hey Pinche Pancho…
    You gotta be a biker too.. or maybe one of your boyfriends is a Biker…
    Bikers have also learned a lesson… To Share the Road…

    • j
      December 5, 2013 at 12:32 am

      [removed] He admitted to driving on the wrong side of the road so how were the bikers acting like they owned the road?

  8. Aaron P
    December 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    If convicted he could only do eight years? That is not enough and it should be if you take a life you should do life.
    End of story…..

    • Robert Nail
      December 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      8 Year maximum sentence [removed]… Learn how to read..
      He will will walk out with 2 years probation… And that’s 100% fair to me.
      Everyone involved here have learned a lesson….
      Yes, Everyone, even the Bikers who believe they own the ROAD…

      • Jason
        December 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

        So he kills someone driving like a moron and you think its fair he walks out with just probation?

        • Tori
          December 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm

          He’ll also get slapped with a large victims restitution payment which isn’t dischargeable through bankruptcy. Every pay check for years to come will remind him of the life he took.

  9. chrlrss
    December 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    So now what do all those coming to his defense have to say now? All those blaming the bikers? Again, this was no accident. He may not have intended to kill someone but his actions, what he chose to do resulted in another persons death.
    I can’t believe his attorney tho, how can someone like that sleep at night?

  10. Francisco Gomez
    December 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Lock that piece is trash up and throw away the key

Comments are closed.