Vehicular manslaughter charges filed in Pismo Beach crash

The 19-year-old Oceano driver accused of hitting and killing a couple walking along Price Street in Pismo Beach last month has been formally charged and is scheduled to be arraigned today.

Jerardo Iriarte has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Iriarte faces a maximum penalty of seven years and four months in state prison if he’s convicted, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors considered charging the more serious offense of second-degree murder but didn’t believe the evidence supported that allegation, which typically includes an implied intent to harm someone or harming someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Iriarte isn’t suspected of being under the influence at the time of the Oct. 16 crash.

Iriarte allegedly drove off Highway 101 near the Marie Callender’s restaurant on the 2100 block of Price Street in an attempt to hurt himself. Instead, he crashed into two people, according to police.

Bruce Mallin, 63, and his 59-year-old wife, Marjorie, were killed in the wreck. They were from Washington state and were vacationing in the area.

Iriarte’s car crashed through a fence and continued onto the sidewalk bordering the west curb of Price Street, where it struck the Mallins, police said. 

Iriarte initially told police he had fallen asleep while driving his vehicle on Highway 101 heading south. But he later admitted in a statement that he sought to harm himself, according to a search warrant.

Iriarte has posted $50,000 bail and been released from County Jail. 

Police sought data, according to the warrant, from a recorder in the 2009 Toyota Corolla that Iriarte was driving. They wanted to try to find out vehicle speed, brake status, airbag deployment and accelerator input five seconds before the crash. 

CHP officials aren’t able to read the device; Toyota has to analyze the data. That information is still pending, according to CHP officials.

Iriarte is scheduled to appear in Judge John Trice’s court at 8:30 a.m. today for his arraignment.