Sacramento man pleads no contest in Gridley fatal DUI and hit and run
OROVILLE, Calif. —
A Sacramento man who hid in a cemetery after crashing his car into an oncoming car and causing that car to crash into another car, plead no contest Wednesday, in Butte County Superior Court.
The charges were felony counts of driving under the influence, causing death and hit and run. According to the Butte County District Attorney he also admitted to a special enhancement of causing great bodily injury to multiple victims.
The charges stem from a multi-car collision on Highway 99, near the Gridley cemetery at approximately 11 p.m. on May 5, 2018.
According the district attorney's office, John Henry Gieck, 43, of Sacramento, had been driving southbound on Highway 99, in a Toyota Camry when he crossed the center divider and hit a Toyota Rav4.
The Rav4 was driven by Frania Houchin, 32, of Chico. Her father, Isidro Ramirez, 68, and her mother, Sophia Ramirez, 64 were also in the car. Houchin suffered minor injuries, but her mother suffered major injuries and her father suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The impact with Houchin’s car caused it to spin into another car, which was following Gieck, causing minor injuries to that solo driver.
According to the district attorney's office, Gieck and his female passenger fled the scene immediately after the crash and hid in the nearby Gridley cemetery.
A California Highway Patrol aircraft, with an infrared camera was dispatched to the area and discovered Gieck and his passenger from their heat signature, as they laid in the darkened cool cemetery. Officers were then directed to their hiding spot and Gieck was arrested. The female was questioned and released. Authorities estimated Gieck’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash to be approximately .14 percent. Both Gieck and his female passenger suffered only minor injuries.
The Butte County District Attorney's Office says Gieck is next due in court on August 15, 2018 for sentencing, when he faces up to 11 years in state prison. He remains in custody with no bail.