A driver involved in a fatal crash that claimed the life of a road construction worker in June said she had been using meth, smoked marijuana that day and that the glare of the sun impeded her vision.
Zahra Gonzales, 39, of Klamath Falls, has been charged in connection with his death and is expected to face the charges in Klamath County Circuit Court Friday.
On June 18, Daniel Wessel, 45, while working as a flagger for Rocky Mountain Construction, was struck and killed by a motor vehicle driven by Gonzales on Highway 140 East near milepost 8.
According to court documents, Oregon State Police responded to a call at approximately 8:32 p.m. on June 18 that a driver had struck a pedestrian on the corner of Highway 140 East and Pine Grove Road.
When police arrived on the scene they found the pedestrian, who was identified as Wessel, 45, was working as a flagger at a road painting site at the scene. Wessel died at the scene.
The driver of the car that struck Wessel was sitting in her vehicle in a ditch when police arrived. The driver was identified as Gonzales.
Gonzalez was on her way from work to pick up a friend who needed a ride to the hospital, according to records.
Gonzales told police that the sun was shining in her eyes at the time that she struck Wessel. Others at the scene confirmed that the sun made it hard to see when driving.
Gonzales said she suddenly saw the outline of a truck that she presumed was backing up through the glare, and swerved off the road to avoid a crash. She said she was not aware that she hit a pedestrian until she was told by others at the scene. Gonzales was not injured.
According to court records, Gonzales told police that she: Had used methamphetamine two days prior to the accident; had used marijuana around 4:30 to 5 p.m. that day; and also had a sip of wine at the same time. She also told police she had taken Aleve for pain and tension headache medication.
A report indicates that the preliminary investigation by police at the scene indicated possible cell phone use by Gonzales at the time of the crash, as well as possible speeding.
She will face charges of manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree and criminally negligent homicide. Gonzales will be arraigned on Friday.
She is currently in booked in the Klamath County Jail and has been in custody since July 12, on a probation violation charge.