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Motorist killed by suspected drunk driver going over 120 mph

December 20, 2009 |  2:43 pm

A woman was killed on the San Bernardino Freeway today after her car was rear-ended by a suspected drunk driver believed to have been traveling at more than 120 miles per hour, authorities said.

The incident occurred around 2:42 a.m. on the eastbound 10 Freeway, just east of Santa Anita Avenue and west of Peck Road in El Monte, said California Highway Patrol Officer Krystal Carter.

The suspect, Thomas Vanauken, 43, of Anaheim, was driving a 2009 Acura MDX, Carter said.

"Witnesses indicated that he was driving more than 120 miles per hour," Carter said.

Vanauken’s car allegedly struck a 1994 Mitsubishi driven by a 42-year-old Ontario woman, who has not been identified. Police said she was observing the speed limit.

When traffic slowed, Vanauken‘s Acura slammed into the rear of the Mitsubishi, Carter said. The Acura continued east into the carpool lane, hit the center divider and landed on its roof, she said.

The female motorist sustained severe injuries and was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Carter said. Her two female passengers, ages 32 and 35, sustained minor to moderate injuries.

Vanauken, who was alone, had minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, Carter said. According to authorities, his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit. He faces charges including gross vehicular manslaughter,  driving while intoxicated and causing the death of another, Carter said.

-- Ann M. Simmons

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