Retired police officer faces murder charges in California crash that took life of woman

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Friends and family gathered Saturday to mourn the loss of a young Oakdale woman who died after an allegedly intoxicated retired police officer crashed into her car in Tuolumne County. That county’s district attorney has announced that charges including murder will be filed against the man Monday.

Rebekah Gall, 27, was driving south on State Route 49 at about 5:15 p.m on Tuesday while Sonora resident Theodore Young, 63, was driving north and veered into her lane, causing a head-on collision. The crash, initially reported by the California Highway Patrol as major injury, was south of Chicken Ranch Road.

Gall was taken by helicopter to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, where she died of her injuries, loved ones shared on Facebook. Young was uninjured, according to the CHP, which told the Union Democrat he is a retired sergeant who worked for the Pleasanton Police Department.

Well over 150 people gathered at Valley View Park in Oakdale on Saturday evening. Those already there embraced friends and family as they poured into the park with balloons, candles and bouquets of fresh white and red flowers.

On a table sat a photo of Gall in a white frame on which loved ones wrote messages.

Camille Prather, 21, of Oakdale, writes a note on a framed photo of her friend, Rebekah Gall, 27, who died in a car crash after an alleged drunk driver hit her.
Camille Prather, 21, of Oakdale, writes a note on a framed photo of her friend, Rebekah Gall, 27, who died in a car crash after an alleged drunk driver hit her.

“Fly high,” wrote Camille Prather, 21, of Oakdale. She described Gall as “sweet” and “positive,” as she held back her tears.

Oakdale resident Michelle Alva, 28, placed a jeweled tiara on a vase filled with flowers and poured glitter all over the table. She briefly laughed as recalled her friend, whom she described as a fabulous woman. Were she still here, Gall probably would have ribbed her that the table wasn’t up to her standards, Alva said.

“She was wonderful,” she said with a smile. “I’m sure everyone will tell you that.”

Alva added that Gall attended Calvary Chapel in Oakdale. She was deeply devoted to her Christian faith, which her parents had instilled in her from a young age, she said.

Obalit Khana, 28, of Modesto, said he has no bad memories of Gall, adding that she was an amazing person. He met her over five years ago through his best friend, Michael, who ended up marrying her less than four years ago.

“I know heaven gained an angel,” he said, standing in a black suit.

Retired police officer arrested

Young was arrested at the crash scene. He initially was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence causing injury, but he was released on bail.

He was rearrested Saturday by CHP officers after they sought and received a Ramey warrant for his arrest, according to a news release by Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke and CHP Sonora Lt. Cmdr. Destiny Tafoya.

The Ramey warrant allowed the CHP to take Young into custody without having to wait for formal charges to be filed by the DA’s Office on Monday.

“The District Attorney’s Office and CHP have been working closely together since Tuesday to assess the facts of this case,” the news release says. It adds that the DA’s Office complaint will charge Young with murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing brain injury, and driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher causing brain injury with a prior driving under the influence conviction.

“Our thoughts are with Rebekah’s family and our community as we all mourn another senseless tragedy caused by drunk driving,” the release says.

It asks that anyone with information on the case call Sonora CHP Investigating Officer Elliott Lopez at 209-984-3944.

Andrea Briseño is the equity reporter for The Bee's community-funded Economic Mobility Lab, which features a team of reporters covering economic development, education and equity.

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Oakdale resident Michelle Alva, 28, sets up a table at a vigil Jan. 22, 2022, honoring her friend Rebekah Gall, 27, who was killed in a car crash by a drunken driver.
Oakdale resident Michelle Alva, 28, sets up a table at a vigil Jan. 22, 2022, honoring her friend Rebekah Gall, 27, who was killed in a car crash by a drunken driver.
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