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Jolene Gardner, Payton Castillo Fatal Garden Grove Crash Near Valley View Street (Jan. 1)

 GARDEN GROVE: 2 Killed in 22 Freeway Crash Near Valley View Street (Jan. 1)Mother, Daughter Killed in Garden Grove Car Accident; DUI Driver Arrested

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2019)  – Jolene Gardner, 33, and her daughter, Payton Castillo, 9, were both killed early New Year’s Day in a multi-vehicle collision caused by a suspected drunk driver on the westbound Garden Grove 22 Freeway, just east of Valley View Street, a California Highway Patrol report said.

UPDATE: Melvin Cleveland Branch was arrested on DUI charges.

The crash was reported at 12:50 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Police believe the crash was caused by Melvin Cleveland Branch as he allegedly was speeding down the freeway in a BMW in the HOV lane. The BMW rear-ended a Lexus that it was traveling behind in the carpool lane.  The impact caused the Lexus to hit the right shoulder of the sound barrier wall. Next, the BMW rear-ended a 2010 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The pickup truck overturned onto its right side before skidding across all lanes of traffic and colliding with other vehicles including a 2003 Mazda 3. The Mazda had been traveling westbound in the No. 3 lane when it was struck by the skidding truck.

The 9-year-old girl, who was a rear passenger in the pickup truck, was pronounced dead at the scene and paramedics rushed Gardner to UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, where she died from her injuries at 1:47 a.m., according to the Orange County Coroner’s Office.

Related: A Go Fund Me page was created to support family members of the victims

The BMW eventually came to rest on a sound barrier wall on the right shoulder of the freeway. Neither of the drivers who were in the Lexus and Mazda suffered any known injuries in the collision.

Meanwhile, the child who was in the back of the pickup truck was pronounced dead at the scene, but her mother was taken to U.C. Irvine Medical Center in Orange where she also died of her injuries about 1:47 a.m., the coroner’s office reported.

Police arrested Branch who was driving the BMW at the scene. The 30-year-old driver was put in the back of a police cruiser where he broke out a window and yelled at two CHP officers.  He was facing charges of felony drunk driving and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, but later charges were dropped.

Police are piecing together physical evidence recovered at the scene to determine liability. They will also speak to those involved and any witnesses. It’s unknown at this time whether or not alcohol and or drugs were a factor in the crash.

Those of us at Johnson Attorneys Group offer our condolences to the family Jolene Gardner and Payton Castillo. 


CHP TRAFFIC 911 REPORT

Incident: 00041 Type: Fatality Location: Sr22 W / Valley View St Ofr Loc Desc: WB 22 JEO VV Lat/Lon: 33.774399 -118.031510
Detail Information
10:24 AM 42 [126] 1039 ENTAC W/UPDATE
10:23 AM 41 [125] LNS CLSD FOR APPX 1 MORE HOUR PER S20
10:02 AM 40 [124] ***** CLOSURE IS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – LOG WILL BE UPDATED ONCE LANES ARE REOPENED – NO ETA AS OF NOW *****
10:00 AM 39 [123] [Notification] [CHP]-ETA FOR CLOSURE? MEDIA LL [Shared]
7:53 AM 38 [120] 1039 ENTAC
7:51 AM 37 [119] PER 55-S20, PLS NOTIFY ENTAC, THE CLOSURE WILL BE FOR 2 MORE HOURS
6:54 AM 36 [118] [Notification] [CHP]-CT UPDATED CMS MESSAGE FWY CLOSED AT KNOTT AVE USE OTHER ROUTE [Shared]
6:20 AM 35 [113] ALL LNS STILL BLKD UFN
4:13 AM 34 [100] PER S6 – #1 LN WILL BE OPEN AT APPROX 0500 HRS
4:12 AM 33 [99] PER S6 – ALL LNS STILL BLOCKED
3:30 AM 32 [88] C55-500 BEACH ONR IS CLR
3:15 AM 31 [84] [Notification] [CHP]-[83] LAB TECH TECH ETA 20 MINS TO GGMC 55-20 [Shared]
3:15 AM 30 [83] LAB TECH TECH ETA 20 MINS TO GGMC 55-20
2:41 AM 29 [69] Secondary Location for C55-500: BEACH ONR TO WB 22 / CLOSURE,
2:40 AM 28 [68] 500 WILL CLOSE BEACH ONR TO WB 22
2:34 AM 27 [66] 1039 STA 47
2:33 AM 26 [65] C55-500 REQ WSM PD TO ASSIST TO CLOSE BEACH ONR TO WB 22
2:20 AM 25 [62] [Notification] [CHP]-[61] PER STA 18 VEHS GOING WRONG WAY AT BEACH ONR TO EXIT [Shared]
2:19 AM 24 [61] PER STA 18 VEHS GOING WRONG WAY AT BEACH ONR TO EXIT
2:16 AM 23 [60] C55-092 ALL LNS STOPPED – TRAFFIC STILL OFF AT KNOTT
2:15 AM 22 [59] TOW AND MO COPIES
2:15 AM 21 [58] PER 40 – BEST ACCESS GW ONR TO WB 22
1:58 AM 20 [55] [Rotation Request Comment] 1039 TOW AND MO W/2 1185’S 714-543-0879
1:56 AM 19 [54] CT SUP WILL BE ENRT WITH BACK UP TRUCK ETA 30-40 MINS AND HARD CLOSURE SET UP ETA WILL BE APPROX 60 MINS…CT SUP HAVING TROUBLE FINDING CREW TO RESP
1:56 AM 18 [53] [Rotation Request Comment] 1039 MR C’S W/2 EVIDENCE 562-594-9521
1:51 AM 17 [50] 55-S6 REQ ETA ON CT
1:37 AM 16 [49] C55-042 PRTY RESTRAINED – REQ MEDICS – 1039 METRO NET
1:29 AM 15 [47] C55-500 97 TAKING ALL VEHS OFF WW AT KNOTT
1:24 AM 14 [44] [Notification] [CHP]-TMC HAS VISUAL-TRAFFIC GOING WW KNOTT ONR TO WB 22 [Shared]
1:22 AM 13 [43] C55-092 TRAFFIC STOPPED JEO KNOTT
1:20 AM 12 [42] 55-S6 REQ CT FOR HARD CLOSURE
1:09 AM 11 [35] 1039 CONTROL – ALL TRAFFIC OFF AT KNOTT
1:09 AM 10 [34] ISSUE SIGALERT – ALL LNS – WB 22 AT KNOTT – UFN
1:09 AM 9 [33] 1039 STA 32
1:07 AM 8 [32] PER 502 – REQ GG PD TO HOLD KNOTT ONR TO WB 22
1:07 AM 7 [31] MEDIA IN CD – REQ SGT – S6 COPIES
1:01 AM 6 [24] 1039 METRO NET – COPIES ALL
12:58 AM 5 [18] 42 ADV PED WALKING BACK TOWARDS SCENE ON RS
12:53 AM 4 [5] 1039 METRO NET
12:52 AM 3 [2] 1 VEH IN HOV
12:52 AM 2 [1] 1 VEH ON ITS SIDE – ON RS
12:52 AM 1 [3] [Appended, 00:53:03] [1] 5-6 VEHS O/TURN VE’
Unit Information
12:53 AM 51 Unit Assigned
12:55 AM 50 Unit Enroute

James Johnson

James Johnson

James Johnson is passionate about educating the public about the myriad of individuals who are not following the rules of the road.His hope is to bring public awareness in order to change the laws to better protect our communities.
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