A man accused of murder in a street racing accident that killed a woman in November had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to the Bakersfield Police Department.
Ronald Pierce Jr. was uncooperative with police, refused a blood test and later had to be restrained to obtain a blood sample, according to a police report filed with the Kern County Superior Court.
Pierce's blood-alcohol level came back as .24 percent, Sgt. Nathan McCauley said Monday. The legal limit for driving is .08 percent.
Pierce allegedly began racing his Mustang against a Dodge Ram pickup truck on Old River Road on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 24, reaching a maximum speed of 133 mph, when he slammed into a minivan near Ming Avenue, according to police reports.
The minivan careened across the center median into oncoming traffic where it was broadsided by a truck. The minivan's driver, Maria Blaney Navarro, 58, of Bakersfield, was killed and her two grandchildren were seriously injured, according to the police report. One of the children was taken by helicopter to Valley Children's Hospital in Madera, the police report said, after she was observed to have facial fractures and a bruised abdomen.
Pierce, 50, remains in custody on $1 million bail. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and DUI.
Also arrested in connection with the crash was Israel Maldonado, 34, the alleged driver of the Dodge Ram pickup truck. He pleaded not guilty to murder, vehicular manslaughter and three misdemeanors at his arraignment and is free on $250,000 bail.
Leading up to the crash, community outrage had been building over widespread incidents of alleged street racing throughout the city. The fatal crash inspired the creation of an online petition demanding that the city act more forcefully to put an end to street racing. BPD Chief Lyle Martin pledged to do more to address the issue.
In unrelated cases, Bakersfield police announced Monday that three people were arrested and cited Saturday on suspicion of reckless driving in an operation directly targeting street racing.
Officers arrested Andrew Arista, 21 and Richard Demetrio, 27, on White Lane near Hughes Lane on suspicion of reckless driving.
When a group of cars in a nearby parking lot moved to another location, on Wible Road just north of Ming Avenue, police followed, a news release said. Guillermo Soto, 21, who was allegedly driving recklessly, was arrested and cited at that location.
All three vehicles were impounded by police. Impounded vehicles are held 30 days.
BPD plans to conduct more street racing enforcement operations over the next several months.
McCauley said the weekend operation targeted a crowd that gathers in parking lots on weekends in groups of up to 300 cars. The fatal accident in November was not linked to those groups, McCauley said. It appeared to be a random event in which two drivers decided to race each other.
"Wherever it occurs," McCauley said, "it's dangerous."