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Driver in fatal head-on crash arrested

A driver accused of causing a head-on crash that killed an Applegate woman more than nine months ago has been arrested by Oregon State Police.

Kandice Dawn Garcia, 33, of Murphy, was taken into custody Tuesday after a Josephine County grand jury last week issued a secret indictment charging her with first-degree manslaughter and driving under the influence of intoxicants. The charges stem from a head-on crash on March 1 on the Williams Highway just south of Grants Pass.

State troopers said Garcia was driving a Ford Expedition that crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Suzuki SUV driven by Pamela J. Howard, 63, of Applegate.

Howard died at the scene while Garcia suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Asante Three Rivers Medical Center for treatment, and later released.

Garcia faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for first-degree manslaughter under Oregon's voter-approved mandatory sentencing law, Measure 11. She does not have prior convictions in Josephine County.

Court records in the case have yet to be unsealed, and Garcia has not yet appeared in court.

She remains lodged in jail on $150,000 bail.

Although OSP said at the time that Garcia's vehicle caused the crash, it took troopers several months to investigate the crash, including accident reconstruction and toxicology reports.

The case is one of several fatal crashes in the Grants Pass area that resulted in delayed criminal charges.

In June, authorities brought charges against Jacob Zainfeld, 31, for a head-on crash on April 12 that killed 72-year-old Jack Cornett.

That crash occurred at the busy intersection of Redwood Highway and Allen Creek Road. In bringing charges two months after the fact, authorities said a toxicology report showed Zainfeld was under the influence of opiate-based drugs.

Weeks after the Allen Creek crash, but before Zainfeld's arrest, authorities brought manslaughter and DUII charges months after another fatal crash, this one on the Rogue River Highway.

In a secret indictment, prosecutors alleged Michael E. Clark, 63, of Rogue River was impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs when his pickup truck crashed into a vehicle driven by 67-year-old Robert W. Smith.

That crash happened on Sept. 28, 2015, meaning there was a seven-month delay in bringing charges. Both the Clark and Zainfeld cases are still active.

Reach reporter Troy Shinn at 541-474-3806 or tshinn@thedailycourier.com.