Driver arrested for homicide in fatal crash

In East Palo Alto, 22-year-old passenger died after driver sped away from officers, police say

A 25-year-old East Palo Alto woman has been arrested for the death of her friend after a fatal car crash on Friday (June 17), an East Palo Alto police spokesman said.

Leylani Simmons, 25, was arrested Monday (June 20) on charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence, driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in great bodily injury or death with a great bodily injury allegation and driving on a suspended license with a prior conviction, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

East Palo Alto officers saw a vehicle driving recklessly at Pulgas Avenue and Camellia Drive at around 10:30 p.m. Friday, according to Acting Capt. Jeff Liu. The DA's office said Simmons allegedly attempted to evade police at speeds between 60-80 mph.

She allegedly ran at least six stop signs, drove on the wrong side of the road twice, and overturned her vehicle after turning at Pulgas and East Bayshore Road, according to the DA's office.

A passenger, Lupe Veamatahau, 22, from East Palo Alto, was pinned between the vehicle and the asphalt and died at the scene, the DA's office said.

Simmons was ejected from the vehicle and hospitalized with serious, non-life-threatening injuries.

She was transported to Stanford Hospital. Upon arrest, Simmons was taken to San Mateo County Jail. She was booked on the charges and a no-bail warrant from Santa Clara County for reckless driving and defrauding an innkeeper. She was also booked on a $5,000 warrant for driving with a suspended license.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the incident to call or text message police at 650-409-6792 or email to

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

— Bay City News Service

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Like this comment
Posted by concerned
a resident of Willow Oaks Elementary
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

This particular case is a hard pill to swallow, being that I knew the driver and in fact went to school throughout elementary and high school with her and her siblings. I can not fathom the thought of this ever being a reality for anyone especially someone I knew very well. Sad day for both family's. My heart and prayers go out to everyone involved and to the poor girl who has gone on into the afterlife in heaven. May she rest forever in paradise. I did not know her but she was a neice of my aunt and I feel horrible for her family because they are grieving the lost of their beloved child. may they be comforted at this dificult time. I wish the driver would have made a different decision but it's all too late to think about the could of's and should of's but now she will have to face the fact that she killed her very friend and it will never be the same for her again even if she is released from jail a year or two later. you will never forget the last moments spent with the person that you unknowingly killed. God be with them both! much love & respects to the all!

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