Tuesday, 23 July 2024

CHP: Lakeport teen wasn't drinking at time of fatal crash

SONOMA COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol said this week that a teenager involved in a fatal crash on Thanksgiving weekend wasn't drinking at the time of the incident.

The Santa Rosa CHP office said that toxicology testing found that 19-year-old Steven Culbertson of Lakeport had no alcohol or drugs in his system when he hit two other vehicles during a four-car collision at the intersection of Lakeville Road and Highway 27 on the night of Nov. 28.

Culbertson, who allegedly was traveling at a high speed in his Mini Cooper, reportedly failed to stop for a red light at the intersection, based on witness reports and physical evidence. He clipped one car before broadsiding a Nissan Quest carrying the Maloney family of Sonoma, the CHP said.

The entire family – parents John and Susan Maloney, and their young children, Aiden and Grace – died at the scene, as Lake County News has reported. Culbertson was taken off life support and died the following morning.

Within days of the crash, Petaluma resident Michael Loffredo told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the CHP that he allegedly saw Culbertson sitting at the bar at Traxx, a Petaluma bar and restaurant, shortly before the fatal collision.

Because Traxx is licensed as a bar and restaurant, Culbertson would legally have been allowed inside the bar, officials reported.

Even so, CHP Officer Jon Sloat told Lake County News on Friday that investigators with the CHP and Alcoholic Beverage Control followed up on Loffredo's claim and weren't able to substantiate his account.

Sloat said investigators have warrants in for Culberton's cell phone texts and credit cards.

However, based on other witnesses and cell phone records that they've received so far, it's the CHP's conclusion at this point that Culbertson wasn't at Traxx that night and that his Mini Cooper wasn't in the parking lot of the establishment.

Sloat wasn't aware if investigators had tried to corroborate Loffredo's story with his own family members, who he also said were there, or if they checked to see if Loffredo had been at the restaurant as he said he was.

They're also investigating whether Loffredo may have made a false report to the authorities, Sloat said.

Meanwhile, Sloat said they've only been able to put together “a little bit” of what Culbertson was doing in the hours before the crash.

“It's still in pieces,” said Sloat.

The CHP's Major Accident Investigation Team is still working on an estimate of how fast Culbertson was going, Sloat said.

He said an investigation into an incident like this usually takes a month.

“We want to take our time and cover all our bases,” Sloat said.

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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clearlake Planning Commission
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.