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CA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control investigating deadly West Salinas crash

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) UPDATE June 21, 4:39 p.m.- The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced that they are investigating the deadly crash that occurred in late May that resulted in the death of a Salinas mother of three on North Davis Road.

Salinas Police said that the crash happened around 9:44 p.m. on May 27, in front of the Hacienda Mexican Grill. Officers said that a 16-year-old male drunk driver was driving a silver BMW with a 31-year-old adult passenger inside the car when they crashed head-on with a white Dodge Journey.

The crash resulted in the death of Maria Viurquez-Benavidez, 33. Police said that the 16-year-old's blood alcohol limit was twice the legal limit and he was unlicensed.

Salinas Police has not charged anyone with providing the minor with alcohol. As far as any criminal penalties are considered the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has not said if they are investigating an individual or business.

They gave the following statement to KION:

The criminal penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor resulting in great bodily injury is spelled out in statute Business and Professions Code 25658. The discretion to prosecute this crime rests with the local district attorney’s office.

If a business is found to have furnished alcohol to a minor, then ABC files an accusation against the business and the licensee can either settle or take the case to hearing. If the case settles or ABC prevails at the hearing, the penalty is imposed. The administrative penalty ranges depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

They did not give a timeline for when their investigation would be complete. The department did add any criminal charges would have to be pursued by the Monterey County District Attorney's Office.

Mother of three killed in West Salinas crash was set to graduate from college

UPDATE May 30, 5:55 p.m.- Maria Viurquez-Benavidez lost her life on Saturday night after police say a drunk driver hit a car she was a passenger in head-on. Her husband was the driver of the car she was in and is still in the hospital fighting for his life, according to police.

Maria leaves behind three children ages 13, 12 and 8. She was two semesters away from graduating from Cal State Monterey Bay with a degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services.

"It looks like a vehicle had crossed over into southbound Davis traffic, causing a head-on collision. A couple of people possibly were not wearing their seatbelts," says Brian Johnson, a Public Information Officer with the Salinas Police Department.

Read more: Surveillance video shows moments before deadly West Salinas crash, charges 16-year-old driver may face

Investigators say the suspect's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

"At a minimum, it's going to be a DUI crash causing injury, depending on what else we find during the investigation, whether there's going to be more charges from the DA's office just based on someone passing because of it," said Johnson.

According to California Highway Patrolman 17 DUI arrests were made in Monterey County. 18 DUI arrests were made in Santa Cruz, and seven were made in San Benito.

Dear CSUMB community,
I am deeply saddened to inform you of the loss of a member of our CSUMB family. Maria Viurquez passed away on May 27 in a car accident. We offer our deepest condolences to Maria’s family, friends, and loved ones. Maria was a Collaborative Health and Human Services major from Salinas. She had transferred to CSUMB from Hartnell College and had just completed her first year.

During this time of loss, we are reminded of the importance of community. Losing a fellow student and member of our University can be very difficult. I encourage those who feel they may need additional support to contact the Personal Growth and Counseling Center by calling 831-582-3969 for any assistance you may need.

For employees who may need assistance, we encourage the use of our Employee Assistance Programs.

Please keep Maria’s loved ones in your thoughts as they move through this difficult time.



SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- UPDATE ON MAY 28, 2023 AT 10:19 AM- Salinas Police confirmed that a 33-year-old woman has died and three others are injured after a reported DUI crash took place on Saturday night on North Davis Road.

Officers said that the crash happened around 9:44 p.m., in front of the Hacienda Mexican Grill. Officers said that a 16-year-old male drunk driver was driving a silver BMW with a 31-year-old adult passenger inside the car with him.

The 16-year-old male driver lost control of the car and crossed over into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into a white Dodge Journey.

A 33-year-old woman passenger was killed while the 44-year-old driver of the Dodge Journey was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office identified the woman who died in the crash as 33-year-old Maria Viurquez-Benavidez of Salinas.

The 16-year-old male driver and the 31-year-old passenger inside the BMW both suffered life-threatening injuries and were taken to a local hospital.

Police said that the 16-year-old's blood alcohol limit was twice the legal limit. This is still an active investigation.

If anyone has any information regarding this crash, you are asked to contact Salinas Police.

Woman dead, 3 severely injured, after head-on crash on North Davis in Salinas

Salinas Police said a head-on crash resulted in at least one person dying and three people being severely injured and taken to Natividad Medical Center on Saturday night.

The crash happened on North Davis Road outside the Hacienda Mexican Grill.

Police said the person who died was a woman, but said they could not reveal anything else about the identities of the victims.

This is an active investigation. Police believe alcohol or drugs could have played a factor in this crash.

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Ricardo Tovar

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