Alcohol not cause of fatal crash 

Three South San Francisco teenagers killed in a horrific accident in January had no alcohol or drugs in their system, despite the presence of alcohol and marijuana in the car, officials said Thursday.

The finding vindicated the belief of some family members that initial reports blaming the deaths on intoxication while driving were incorrect.

California Highway Patrol officials are "tentatively" looking at an "unsafe turning movement" as the cause of the Jan. 20 crash on eastbound Interstate 80 near Vacaville that left four people dead, including Halley Gelpke, 19, Stella Blue Kraft, 16, and Katelynd Galloway-Smith, 19, all from South San Francisco,

After the crash, police found a capped, partially filled bottle of liquor and marijuana in the car, but toxicology tests on Gelpke, who was driving the 1993 Toyota Corolla, and Kraft came back clean of any alcohol or drugs, according to the Solano County Coroner’s Office.

Kraft’s mother, Robin, said that when her daughter, Gelpke, Galloway-Smith and 20-year-old Carlos Reyes left the Krafts’ house around 10 a.m., they weren’t drunk. She did note that she’d seen the bottle later found by police in the trunk when she loaded a duffle bag, but said the bag ultimately made its way back to her after the crash without smelling of alcohol.

"I knew they weren’t drunk because they’d just left my house," Kraft said.

"It’s just a freak accident," she said.

Galloway-Smith died the day after the accident, while Reyes suffered back injuries when the car careened up the embankment separating the eastbound and westbound roads. The Toyota then cleared the guardrail and slammed head on into a 1999 Ford Expedition, killing its driver and causing a multi-car crash on westbound Interstate 80.

Contra Costa County toxicology tests on Galloway-Smith have not been completed.

"From what we understand, she drifted out of the fast lane to the right. And then it came to her attention and she swerved back to the left," CHP Officer Willie Williford said.

"We’re still interested in why there’s an open container of alcohol in the trunk and what exactly the driver was doing," Williford said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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