Drunken driver faces 9 years in fatal head-on collision 

The drunken driver who caused a tragic head-on crash in 2008 in which he was pulled from his car before it burst into flames while a passenger in the other car was killed is facing more than nine years in the slammer when he is sentenced Thursday morning, prosecutors said.

Nathan Newby, 36, pleaded no contest to charges that he drove in a drunken stupor the wrong way on Interstate Highway 280 in San Mateo County before slamming head-on with another car at high-speed, prosecutors said.

Rescue crews pulled Newby from his car, which had overturned, in the nick of time, just before it was about to explode into flames, prosecutors said. However, victims in the other car weren’t as lucky. Soo Sung Joo, 52, died at the scene, while the driver of the car suffered major injuries including skull fractures, lacerated spleen, a broken femur and aortic dissection, prosecutors said.

Newby, who has a prior drunk driving conviction in 2004, reportedly admitted to “having five drinks,” they said.

The case “has really dragged on for a long time” but Newby “should be sentenced” Thursday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Newby faces a maximum 9 years and 8 months in state prison, Wagstaffe said. He remains in custody on $350,000 bail, prosecutors said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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