Driver in Hwy 132 crash west of Modesto charged with murder, manslaughter, DUI

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office has charged a Modesto driver, Ervin Gordon Wyatt, with murder in a Sept. 28 collision on Maze Boulevard/Highway 132 that killed three women.

The crash west of Modesto claimed the lives of two sisters, Marianne Clemons, 67, of Patterson and Pamela Cross, 64, of Modesto. The third woman was Wyatt’s passenger, Modesto resident Rosa Clavel, 44.

Prosecutors also have charged Wyatt, 49, with three counts of felony manslaughter with gross negligence and three felony counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury.

Wyatt has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He remains in the Public Safety Center, with his bail set at $600,000.

Wyatt’s attorney, Kendall Simsarian, said the evidence does not support the charges against his client. Simsarian also questions the validity of the tests used to determine that Wyatt was driving under the influence.

Simsarian said Wyatt had not been drinking and was driving home from working a graveyard shift to pick up his son and take him to school. He said the evidence he’s seen so far supports a charge of misdemeanor manslaughter with ordinary negligence.

“He’ll admit to wrongdoing to the extent that the evidence shows it,” Simsarian said about Wyatt. “He sincerely regrets his role in the accident.”

Deputy District Attorney Wendell Emerson said prosecutors will need to prove implied malice for the murder charge.

Emerson said in an email that the definition of implied malice is when someone “intentionally committed the act; the natural and probable consequences of the act were dangerous to human life; at the time he acted he knew his act was dangerous to human life, and he deliberately acted with conscious disregard for human life.”

The evidence that came out during Wyatt’s bail hearing includes a witness stating Wyatt was driving 90 mph, Emerson said. He said a breathalyzer test given by the California Highway Patrol indicated alcohol in Wyatt’s system, as did blood drawn at the hospital. The CHP has said Wyatt sustained minor injuries.

“We look forward to the remainder of the evidence coming out at (Wyatt’s) preliminary hearing,” Emerson said. The hearing is set for Nov. 28.

The collision occurred west of Gates and Paradise roads. Wyatt was driving east in a 2010 Lexus sedan. Clemons was driving west in a 2015 Hyundai sedan. Cross was her passenger.

The CHP has said Wyatt drifted onto the the right shoulder, then veered to the left, causing the Lexus to drive into the westbound lane and into the path of Clemons and Cross.

Simsarian said his client drove onto the shoulder because the sun was in his eyes, then overcorrected and ended up in the oncoming traffic lane.

He said Wyatt and Clavel were co-workers, lived together as a couple and were coming home from work. The two worked in Fremont. “We recognize that this is an unfortunate, tragic accident and are sympathetic to all three victims,” Simsarian said.

Clemons and Cross were sisters, according to a GoFundMe account. “We are raising money to lay our mother Pamela Cross to rest,” states the GoFundMe account organized by Katrina Price. “Tragically and suddenly on September 28th our mother was taken from us along with our Aunt due to a drunk driver.

“We are devastated during this time. Words can’t describe the pain we feel. All donations will be going towards her cremation and end of Life services.”

There also is a GoFundMe for Clavel, who one donor called “an amazing hard working woman that will forever be in our hearts.”