The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a woman accused of driving while intoxicated, flipping her car into Tecolote Creek then leaving her friend trapped inside, was sentenced to at least 19 years in prison last week.
Court documents show that 24-year-old Jennifer Rae Xavier was convicted of murder, hit-and-run, driving while intoxicated, and other related charges by a San Diego Superior Court last year. The court found that on March 4, 2021, Xavier caused the crash that killed a 21-year-old woman.
Investigators found that Xavier and her friend went out to bars in Pacific Beach that night, and the defendant got behind the wheel while drunk and under the influence of Xanax.
The passenger and victim sent several text messages to her brother before the crash telling him that she was terrified, and that Xavier was drunk and had taken Xanax. She also said that Xavier had been swerving in and out of traffic and nearly hit other vehicles while sometimes reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
The car veered off the 5 Freeway and overturned in Tecolote Creek below.
Xavier freed herself and walked away, leaving her friend behind. She was picked up by another motorist who was unaware of the crash she had been in.
Firefighters responding to the scene extricated the young woman from the submerged vehicle and rushed her to an area hospital in critical condition. She died five days later.
Xavier was arrested five months later and charged with murder.
Following the verdict, Xavier addressed the surviving family members of the victim. “My reckless choice ultimately took the life of one of the closest friends I’ve ever had,” she said. “I’m sorry for the pain and anger you all feel. There is nothing I can do to ever make up for this.”
Xavier will serve between 19 years to life in prison.