Woman Accused of Intentionally Driving Kids, Elderly Woman off 100-Foot Embankment in Summerland

A woman from West Hills, California, is accused of deliberately driving her Chevy Silverado off the southbound 101 embankment near Evans Avenue and plunging toward the railroad tracks below on December 7. With her in the pickup truck were three juveniles and a 79-year-old woman, and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney has charged Christina Watanabe with assault with a deadly weapon.

Watanabe allegedly took the pickup down a 100-foot embankment near the Evans Avenue southbound offramp in Summerland, the DA’s press release stated, falling over onto its side and coming to a halt five feet from the tracks, where an approaching Amtrak Pacific Surfliner made an emergency stop. The relationship between the individuals in the vehicle was not stated, but the children ranged in age from 12 to 15. The counts included elder or dependent adult abuse and three for child abuse under conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death. The felony complaint also states plans to introduce evidence of prior elder abuse by Watanabe. Four requests for protective orders were filed with the court, and Watanabe is being held on $2 million bail. A preliminary hearing setting will be held on January 7, 2022.

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