Man accused of fatal freeway crash pleads not guilty

A Carlsbad man accused of causing a freeway crash that killed a pregnant woman and her unborn child, then fleeing the scene, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run causing death.

John Francis Sudac, 27, who is also charged with possession of marijuana, could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor.

Sudac, who is out of custody on $200,100 bail, is due back in court on Jan. 22 for a readiness conference. Vista Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett also set a Jan. 26 preliminary hearing date.

On Jan. 4 about 1 a.m., Sudac was allegedly behind the wheel of a speeding Nissan Altima that clipped the back of a Ford Explorer on Interstate 5, just north of Lomas Santa Fe Drive, killing 24-year-old Yine Gonzalez of Tijuana.

Gonzalez, who was six months pregnant, was partially ejected as the SUV rolled over several times, said CHP Officer Mark Latulippe.

He said Gonzalez died of her injuries at a hospital and her fetus could not be saved. Her husband, 5-year-old daughter and two relatives were treated for minor injuries.

Latulippe said Sudac and a male passenger ran from the wrecked car, but Sudac surrendered to authorities that night.

Anyone with information on Sudac’s passenger was asked to call the Highway Patrol in Oceanside, Villaflor said.

A man accused of stopping near the accident site and stealing the victim’s purse is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday if charges are brought.

Mark Struk, 31, has denied culpability in the incident.

Latulippe said that investigators are still looking for $400 missing from the purse, along with two passports.