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Woman charged with murder in freeway head-on crash

City News Service | 2/9/2018, midnight

A Santa Clarita woman has been charged with murder and other counts for allegedly driving the wrong way in a stolen pickup truck on the Foothill (210) Freeway in Claremont, where the truck crashed into four vehicles and left one man dead and several others injured last month.

Nicole Danielle Thibault, 28, is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 16 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on one count each of murder and grand theft and six counts each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Thibault allegedly stole a parked truck in San Bernardino, then drove through red lights and at unsafe speeds before entering the 210 Freeway the afternoon of Jan. 22, according to prosecutors.

She allegedly drove westbound in the eastbound lanes for more than 20 miles, colliding head-on with several cars, according to prosecutors.

Daniel Castillo, 69, of Fontana, was driving one of the four vehicles involved in the collision with the Ford F-150 pickup truck, and died at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP reported last month that the 2011 pickup truck was reported to have been taken at about 3:25 p.m. that day with the owner’s 2-year-old son inside the vehicle near a 7-Eleven store on Highland Avenue and H Street. The youngster was subsequently dropped off at Temple Street and H Street, according to the CHP.

About 3:45 p.m. that day, CHP dispatchers “received numerous calls of a wrong-way driver traveling westbound on the eastbound lanes of SR-210, within the center median shoulder,” according to the CHP.

“Responding CHP units attempted to get into position; however, a pursuit was never initiated. As the Ford F-150 continued traveling (the) wrong way within the center median of SR-210, for unknown reasons it veered into incoming traffic and collided with four vehicles ... east of Mills Avenue in the city of Claremont,” the statement said. “It is unclear where the Ford F-150 entered the freeway and why the suspect was driving (the) wrong way.”

All eastbound lanes were closed for several hours while an investigation was conducted.

Thibault — who was among those authorities said were injured in the crash — was arrested Feb. 1 by the California Highway Patrol, and remains jailed in lieu of $8 million bail, according to jail records.

If convicted as charged, she could face up to 57 years to life in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.