John Bryan McDonald, 46, of South Jordan, Utah faces counts of vehicular manslaughter with an enhancement for leaving the scene of the June 15 accident. McDonald allegedly swerved in front of a westbound Honda Civic, causing the driver to swerve into oncoming traffic and collide head-on with motorcyclist Anthony Soldano of Burlingame. Soldano died at the scene, and his passenger Gina Blackstone of Brentwood died later that day at an Antioch hospital.
Because the driver of the Honda Civic was seriously injured in the crash, McDonald has also been charged with hit-and-run with great bodily injury.
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney John Cope said this week via e-mail that a warrant for McDonald’s arrest was filed on July 2, at which time he surrendered to authorities.
“His attorney had been in contact with the district attorney’s office soon after the crash and arranged for him to surrender and be arraigned on July 2, soon after the complaint was filed,” Cope said. “He pled not guilty and made general denials through his attorney.”
California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Tom Maguire said coverage of the story in print and broadcast media and tips from the public aided officers in tracking down McDonald’s vehicle, which was towing a boat at the time of the accident. The vehicle and the boat were both located in Southern California, and officers identified McDonald by his Utah license plates. Maguire said McDonald was in California visiting family, and after locating the car and boat, authorities were able to link McDonald to the accident.
Bail was set in the amount of $260,000, and Cope said he believes McDonald paid the bail shortly after he was booked. Since McDonald resides in another state, he was required to surrender his passport and waive potential extradition. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the Pittsburg Courthouse. McDonald could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to Cope.
Maguire said the CHP is still in search of witnesses and those who can shed more light on the case, such as identifying anyone who might have helped McDonald elude apprehension. Those with additional information should call 800-TELL-CHP or the Contra Costa Field Office at 925-646-4980.
Oakley Vice Mayor and State Route 4 Bypass Authority Chairman Jim Frazier announced at Tuesday’s Oakley City Council meeting that stepped-up law enforcement to patrol the Bypass, provoked by the June 15 accident, has led to the issuing of approximately 150 traffic tickets in the past week and a half. One driver was even clocked at 100 miles per hour. Frazier said he has asked State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to consider designating the Bypass as a double-fine zone to encourage safe driving.