A Felton man accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal head-on wreck the night before Thanksgiving will be held for trial, a judge ruled Monday.
Nicholas Steven Yeager, 29, faces 13 years in state prison.
During Monday’s short preliminary hearing, which is to determine if there is enough evidence to hold a trial, the California Highway Patrol officer who investigated the crash testified about Yeager’s alleged level of intoxication and the logistics of the fatal collision.
Yeager faces a long list of charges, including gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI and hit and run.
Yeager allegedly allowed his Dodge Durango to veer into oncoming traffic on East Zayante Road the evening of Nov. 26, colliding head-on with a Ford Taurus driven by Monte Curtis Poston, 44, of Felton. Poston died at the scene, while his wife, Michelle, 43, was injured in the crash and trapped inside the wrecked car.
In the moments after the 7:30 p.m. crash, a passing motorist who lives in the area stopped and spoke with Yeager, according to CHP officer Bryce Danehaurer, the lead investigator on the crash.
During their conversation, the motorist asked Yeager if he was trying to flee the scene and Yeager allegedly told him that he just wanted to get his child home because the young boy was cold and scared.
Meanwhile, another resident in the area had heard the sound of the crash and left her home to investigate, Danehaurer testified. When she got to the intersection of East Zayante and Zayante School roads, Michelle Poston was climbing out of the mangled Ford Taurus.
Sheriff’s deputies tracked Yeager back to his home, where he and his son were unhurt, about an hour after the fatal wreck. Yeager was arrested there, then put through field sobriety tests and taken to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz for blood tests, where it was determined he was too intoxicated to drive legally, according to the CHP.
“He was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle,” Danehaurer said in court.
Yeager had a blood-alcohol level nearing 0.20 more than three hours after the crash. The legal limit to drive a vehicle is .08, according to the CHP.
But one of the big questions that surfaced during the hearing was when Yeager consumed the alcohol that led to his extreme intoxication.
Yeager allegedly told Danehaurer that he drank two beers and one shot each of tequila and Jagermeister at the landmark Trout Farm Inn, which is about a half-mile up East Zayante from the crash site. However, staff at the restaurant and bar said Yeager, a regular, also ate meatloaf and potatoes while he was at the inn with his 3-year-old son, Danehaurer testified.
Yeager also told the CHP that he drank an entire bottle of Jagermeister when he got home, then threw the bottle down a 20-foot embankment that separates his house from the road, Danehaurer said in court. Officers searched the area for a bottle but didn’t find one, according to testimony.
Yeager left the Trout Farm with his son, who was strapped into a child-safety seat in the backseat, minutes before the crash occurred. He was driving less than three miles from the restaurant to his home.
According to what Michelle Poston told the CHP, Yeager’s Durango was traveling about 35 mph — which is the posted speed limit on the windy, mountain road — when it ran off the right side of the road, then over-corrected and came at the Poston’s sedan.
Yeager is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony hit and run, felony child endangerment, felony driving under the influence causing injury and driving without a license. He returns to court Jan. 22 to set a trial date.
Contact Jennifer Squires at 429-2449 or email@example.com.