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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Woman Found Insane in Crash That Killed 2

September 29, 2000

SANTA ANA — A woman who stole an ambulance from an Anaheim hospital in February and smashed it into a compact car, killing two young men, was declared not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday.

The ruling by Orange County Superior Court Judge Nancy Stock means Rose Failla, 52, will be held at a mental hospital until she is found to be sane and not a threat to society.

"It was the proper outcome," said Deputy Public Defender Dolores Yost. "It serves two purposes: It's humane for Rose and it provides the greatest protection for the community."

The judge based her ruling on testimony that Failla has a 25-year history of mental illness, including a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and was suffering delusions in the days before the crash.

According to testimony, Failla spoke of CIA conspiracies, hidden tunnels and fears that Adolf Hitler had switched street lights to cause havoc. In the hours before the crash, Failla's relatives tried to get Orange police and hospitals to help her, Yost said.

On the day of the accident, she was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange by relatives who said she was acting strangely. She ran out of the hospital because she feared a bomb was in the building, relatives said. Later she checked into Anaheim Memorial Hospital but left before a doctor could see her.

Failla drove off in an ambulance that had the keys in it, ran a red light at La Palma Avenue and Romneya Drive and struck the side of a car, killing Brandon Tran, 20, and Michael Rebaza, 21.

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