Driver, 23, Pleads No Contest in Death of 2 Friends During Collision; DUI Charge Dropped

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A 23-year-old woman who was accused of driving drunk when her car crashed into a tree, killing two of her friends, has pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.


A Nov. 3, 2013, crash on the northbound 110 Freeway in Highland Park left two women dead. The driver was sentenced July 17, 2014, to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. (Credit: KTLA)

Jeanette Romero entered her plea Thursday afternoon to two counts of vehicle manslaughter with an allegation of great bodily injury.

Romero was driving home from a birthday party in downtown Los Angeles with four of her girlfriends early Nov. 3, 2013, when she hit a curb on the 110 Freeway, according to prosecutors. The vehicle struck a chain link fence and a tree.

Two of the passengers were killed, including 22-year-old Ana Cuadra, whose birthday prompted the celebration. Blanca Belman-Almanza, 23, was also killed.

Ana Cuadra, left, and Blanca Belman-Almanza were killed in a crash Nov. 3, 2013.

Ana Cuadra, left, and Blanca Belman-Almanza were killed in a crash Nov. 3, 2013.

Romero had been charged with driving under the influence, but that charge was dropped as part of a plea deal, according to DA’s office spokesman Greg Risling.

Romero had faced up to 13 years in prison, the DA’s office stated when she was charged in February.

She was expected to be sentenced Jan. 20 to two years, three months in state prison.

Two other passengers were seriously injured in the crash, and Romero was also hospitalized, authorities said at the time.

Firefighters had to cut the women out of the badly mangled Nissan Sentra, which crashed on the northbound freeway near Avenue 52 in Highland Park. The aged, narrow 110 Freeway repeatedly curves through that area on its path from downtown to Pasadena.

Cuadra had two children, according to a memorial fundraising page set up for her family on Almanza had been a waitress at El Arco Iris in Highland Park, the restaurant’s owner told the Highland Park Patch last year.

Both women attended Franklin High School, the website reported.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had a headline that incorrectly stated sentencing had already occurred for Romero. The article has been updated.

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