The woman accused of killing four motorcycle riders early Sunday morning has been charged with four felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, the Tulare County District Attorney's Office announced on Tuesday.
Jazmin Paramo, 24, also faces one felony count of driving the wrong way on a divided highway causing injury or death. Paramo was arraigned on Tuesday in Department 16 of the Tulare County Superior Court, South County Justice Center in Porterville.
Bail was set at $400,000. Paramo is scheduled to return to court in Department 23 for a bail hearing on Thursday and a preliminary hearing conference on August 14.
Paramo, faces the felony charges after the California Highway Patrol stated she was driving under the influence and the wrong way. The CHP stated Paramo was heading northbound in the southbound lanes of Highway 65 near Avenue 196 in Strathmore when she collided head on with two motorcycles. All four motorcycle riders involved in the crash died as a result of the collision.
The Tulare County Sheriff's Office stated Paramo had a blood alcohol level of .20 percent. Paramo was also charged with a misdemeanor of driving with a suspended license.
Two of the people who died in the crash were Jose Vargas and his wife, Rita Vargas. Rita Vargas was a child care teacher at the Prospect Education Center in the Porterville Unified School District and was scheduled to teach at Plano Preschool.
A GoFundMe page, https://www.gofundme.com/f/rita-amp-jose-vargas-our-angels-riding-in-heaven, has been created for funeral expenses. The GoFundMe page set a goal of $5,000 and as of Tuesday morning, $6,001 in one day.
Another married couple, Gilbert Vargas, 48, and Mitzi Vargas, 41, were killed in the crash. A GoFundMe page has also been set up for them: https://www.gofundme.com/f/gilbert-and-mitzi-vargas
That page also had a goal of $5,000 and as of Tuesday morning, $5,750 had been raised.
Porterville Unified School District stated it will educate students district wide about the consequences of drinking and driving. The district begins the new school year on Thursday. The district will also have counseling available for those who need it.
"It's going to affect a lot of people, but what we can do is turn this into a positive and really talk to students," district public information officer Jason Pommier told ABC Action News Channel 30 "These are the reasons why you don't drink and drive."
The Porterville Unified School District posted the following on its Facebook page:
“It is with deep sadness and regret that Porterville Unified School District announces the passing of Plano Preschool teacher Rita Vargas. Mrs. Vargas was tragically killed, along with her husband, Jose, in an automobile accident Sunday morning.
She was entering her seventh year in the district and had just recently moved to Plano Preschool after working at the Prospect Education Center. We are grateful for the positive impact that Rita had on our students. On behalf of the entire PUSD community, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the Vargas family.
Mrs. Vargas was 40.
Please join us in keeping Rita’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”