Sunday, 16 June 2024

UPDATE: CHP confirms death of Lakeport teen

SONOMA COUNTY – A 19-year-old Lakeport resident who was involved in a four-vehicle collision that killed a family of four Saturday night has died.

Steven Culbertson died late Sunday morning at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, according to Officer Jon Sloat of the California Highway Patrol's Santa Rosa office.

Katy Hillenmeyer, a Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital spokesperson, told Lake County News late Monday that Culbertson died “surrounded by loved ones.” Under privacy laws Hillenmeyer was not authorized to give further details.

The young man's death followed by several hours the deaths of John Maloney, 45, his wife Susan, 42, and their young children Grace, 5, and Aiden, 8, whose Nissan Quest was hit broadside by Culbertson at around 9:20 p.m. Saturday.

Based on its initial investigation, the CHP determined that Culberton allegedly was driving his Mini Cooper more than 90 miles per hour southbound on Lakeville Highway when he clipped the rear end of a Honda CR-V driven by Petaluma resident John Graham, 61.

Culbertson's vehicle continued on, running a red light and hitting the Maloneys' Quest, which was traveling eastbound on Highway 37. The Quest was then pushed into an eastbound traveling Mitsubishi Galant driven by 52-year-old Carrie Rodriguez of Novato.

Rodriguez and her passengers, Liberty Rosario, 42, of Fairfield and Adelaida Nicholas, 53, of Novato, were transported to a Novato hospital with minor injuries, said Sloat. Graham and his passenger, Stockton resident James Parker, weren't hurt.

There had been differing reports over the weekend regarding Culbertson's death.

Sloat said the CHP received a call from the Sonoma County Coroner's Office reporting that Culbertson died at 11:15 a.m. Sunday.

However, several hours later Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital officials continued to report to Lake County News and other media that Culbertson was in care and in critical condition.

The CHP – which spent hours investigating the scene with the help of the agency's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) – said speed was a factor in the crash.

Sloat said that Culbertson was not being pursued by any law enforcement at the time of the collision.

There was no evidence of alcohol or drugs at the scene, said Sloat.

However, he added, “We're not ruling it out yet.”

A blood sample was taken from Culbertson and submitted to the Department of Justice laboratory. Sloat said it should take about two weeks for those tests to be completed.

Two years ago, a family of five was killed in a fiery crash on Highway 101, said Sloat. That and Saturday's crash are the two worst in his 10 years working in the Sonoma County area, he said.

Culbertson graduated from high school in 2008 and aspired to be a professional race car driver and mechanic, according to his Facebook page.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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