Prescription drugs and stuck accelerator emerge as two possibilities in fatal Newport Beach crash
The driver at the center of the fatal Newport Beach crash was speeding at 90 mph. That much police will say. But what caused 27-year-old Julie Allen, a former Stanford track star, to cross the center divide of West Coast Highway and crash into nine cars remains a mystery.
Allen and two other people -- 69-year-old Linda Burnett and her son Christopher De La Cruz, 49 -- were killed in the Saturday crash.
Allen's friends said she had a history of mental illness, for which she had been prescribed drugs. Friends said she would not be in a condition to drive if she was off the medication and suffering a psychological breakdown. They said she was not a drinker or illegal drug user.
Newport Beach police confirmed only that they were looking into whether she was taking medication at the time.
Police said one other possibility could be a stuck accelerator. In an archived post on her mother's website, which has since been removed, Leslee Godfrey Allen described an incident involving Julie Allen and a stuck pedal.
"Our daughter called from the side of the freeway," she wrote. "She said that suddenly she couldn't control the speed of the car, which was stuck at full speed. Although frightened, she'd had the presence of mind to apply the brake repeatedly, which slowed the car enough for her to pull over to the side of the road and to shift the car's transmission out of 'drive' into 'neutral' and then into 'park,' causing it to jerk to a stop."
The post was undated.
-- Howard Blume
Photo: Julie Allen. Credit: Stanford Univresity.