YAKIMA, Wash. — A White Swan woman was found guilty of vehicular homicide by a Yakima County jury Friday in connection with a horrific crash two years ago that killed two people and seriously injured an 11-year-old girl.
Mabel Rose Cultee, 52, had remained free on her own recognizance pending trial but was taken into custody following the verdict. She now faces a prison sentence of three to four years. Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.
At trial, deputy prosecutor David Soukup presented evidence showing Cultee had a toxic cocktail of painkillers in her system when the van she was driving ran a stop sign on July 19, 2010, and broadsided a pickup at the intersection of Larue Road and South Oldenway Road.
Killed instantly in the crash was Reyes Valdez, 62, and her son, Remigio Valdez, 40, who was driving the truck. His niece, 11-year-old Julissa Valdez, was cut from the wreckage by Good Samaritans as flames began to engulf the truck.
The girl, who was sitting between her uncle and grandmother, suffered a fractured skull and pelvis in the crash as well as multiple lacerations. She made a complete recovery and testified at trial.
Cultee, who escaped serious injury, told troopers at the scene that she was blinded by the sun and didn’t see the stop sign until it was too late.
However, investigators said Cultee also reported taking several doses of the painkiller hydrocodone that day, and they found an unlabeled pill bottle in her purse that contained and assortment of painkillers, including hydrocodone (better known as Vicodin).
A subsequent analysis of her blood, taken while Cultee was being treated at Toppenish Community Hospital, showed not only hydrocodone but also morphine, methadone and muscle relaxers.
After a weeklong trial in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Ruth Reukauf, the jury found Cultee guilty as charged: two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault.