MARTINEZ -- The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office on Wednesday charged a San Pablo mother with manslaughter for her young daughter's death in an SUV rollover crash in Richmond on May 20.
Five-year-old Xaniah Jackson had not been secured by a seat belt or a child safety seat when her mother, Arkita Myers, rolled her SUV several times after trying to avoid slamming into another vehicle at a stoplight on Richmond Parkway, deputy District Attorney Barry Grove said.
Xaniah was ejected and crushed by the SUV. An 18-year-old, two 16-year-olds and Myer's 7-year-old daughter -- none of whom was wearing seat belts -- survived the crash with cuts and bruises, said Grove, who charged Myers on Wednesday afternoon with vehicular manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and four counts of child endangerment.
The felony charges carry a punishment ranging from probation to prison time, Grove said.
"You're criminally responsible anytime you do something grossly negligent that results in the death of another person, and that's essentially what happened," Grove said. "She was negligent in her driving, she caused the accident, but there's more to it. Her intentional act of not restraining the child in a car seat put the child in a position where her negligent act resulted in the child's death."
The charges follow the Richmond Police Department's three-month investigation into the solo vehicle accident that occurred at about 8:10 a.m. on Richmond Parkway at the Hilltop Drive intersection and shut down the roadway for several hours.
Myers, traveling at about 50 mph, was not paying attention as she approached the intersection and had to jerk the steering wheel to the left to avoid colliding with a pickup in front of her that had slowed for a changing stoplight, Grove said. She then overcorrected by turning the wheel sharply to the right to avoid hitting oncoming traffic and flipped the vehicle.
Under California law, Xaniah should have been secured in a child safety seat based on her age and weight, Grove said. He said Myers was also driving without a license.
Myers could not be reached for comment Wednesday. She is expected to be arraigned on the charges this week.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.