Authorities believe that 21-year-old San Jose resident Dang Nguyen Hai Tran was under the influence of marijuana when he caused a wreck that killed three Manteca residents in Fremont late Tuesday night.
But by 10 p.m. on Friday night, Tran was no longer in custody at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin after prosecutors decided not to file the list of charges that he was initially arrested for – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI with great bodily injury and a weapons charge for possessing a nightstick.
Originally held on $195,000 bail and set to be arraigned on Thursday, Tran – who officials believe may have been the motorist that prompted multiple 911 calls for excessively speeding and making unsafe lane changes just before the accident that claimed the lives of 39-year-old Noelle Johnson, 14-year-old Christy Limas and 9-year-old Brooke Limas – had his court date pushed back to Friday only for prosecutors to announce that they weren’t ready to formally file charges against him. Instead, they have asked the California Highway Patrol to continue its investigation.
According to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department website, Tran was no longer in custody at the Santa Rita Jail by 10 p.m. Friday night – two hours after the sheriff’s office announced they would be releasing him shortly after 8 p.m.
In a statement made to The Mercury News, Alameda County District Attorney spokesperson Teresa Drenick confirmed that Tran was not being charged at this time, and that pending further investigation that decision could be revisited.
“We will make a charging decision when we have all of the evidence, upon completion of the work,” Drenick said in the statement.
According to CHP reports, Tran was traveling northbound on Interstate 880 in Fremont when his 2002 Toyota made a lane change to the left and struck the 2015 Cadillac Escalade driven by Johnson. The collision caused both vehicles to lose control – sending Tran’s Camry into a different lane and causing the Escalade to overturn.
Four passengers riding in the Escalade were ejected, and the preliminary investigation indicated that none of the occupants were wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision. All three of those who lost their lives were declared dead at the scene, and a fourth passenger was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition. Her status was not known as of press time.
Press reports indicated that Johnson had taken her boyfriend Chris Limas, his two daughters and her four children to the San Francisco Zoo to celebrate her 4-year-old’s birthday on the day of the accident.
Students at Sierra High School held a moment of silence on Thursday for Christy Limas, who was involved with the Future Farmers of America program. Manteca Unified School District, which issued a press release Wednesday night, had mental health professionals on hand Thursday and Friday at both schools the Limas sisters attended, and even brought in therapy dogs to help students cope with the tragic news. At Brock Elliott Elementary School, which Brooke Limas attended, the school had a craft making table for students to make cards remembering their classmate and sending condolences to the family.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.