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6-Year Sentence in 2 Racing Deaths

October 11, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A 19-year-old San Clemente woman was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for her role in a drag racing accident that killed two men whose van exploded after it was struck by her speeding Mustang.

Erin Gormley, weeping and red-faced, apologized repeatedly to the families of the men she killed in the November 2001 accident and -- handcuffed -- kissed her father before being taken into custody.

"I had absolutely no intention of killing two people," she said, gasping as she begged the families for forgiveness. "I swear to God. I know that it was not on purpose."

Gormley was convicted in August of vehicular manslaughter, engaging in a speed contest and driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 15, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
Father of convicted driver -- An article in the California section of the Orange County edition on Saturday about the sentencing of Erin Gormley for her role in a drag-racing accident that killed two men incorrectly described the young woman's father, Joe Gormley, as "Joe Gormley's father."

Citing Gormley's "sincere remorse," youth and lack of criminal history, Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Marion said he considered offering the college student probation. But, after she tested positive for alcohol a month after the accident during routine testing, he settled on the prison term. Gormley also was ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution.

Gormley was racing a black Mustang at about 75 mph on Pacific Coast Highway near Del Obispo Street in Dana Point when she slammed into a van that was making a left turn, prosecutors said. The van burst into flames, killing Raymond Shelly, 40, and Jose Valverde, 47. Witnesses tried to help, but were driven back by the heat.

Jenny Valverde, 21, of San Clemente, the daughter of one of the victims, said the punishment was fair. "I wouldn't want her to get away with it to let everyone know it's OK to drag race."

But Don Shelly, the oldest brother of Raymond Shelly, disagreed. "She killed two people and she got several years in prison," said Shelly. "It's not fair."

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