Fresno DA charges woman after deadly bus crash

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A woman accused of providing alcohol to a teenage driver who caused a deadly Greyhound bus crash has been charged with a misdemeanor, officials said Tuesday.

Michelle Kay Cole, 22, was charged with purchasing an alcoholic beverage for a person under 21 resulting in death, Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan said at a news conference.

Cole was cited Monday but not arrested, Egan said. She could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.

A California Highway Patrol report placed sole blame for the crash on 18-year-old Sylvia Garay. Investigators said she was drunk when her SUV hit a concrete barrier and overturned on Highway 99 on July 22, 2010.

The oncoming bus, carrying 31 passengers on a route from Los Angeles to Sacramento, struck the SUV, skidded into a concrete center divider, then tumbled down a 15-foot embankment and plowed into a eucalyptus tree shortly after 2 a.m. a few miles from downtown Fresno.

Garay, her two passengers and three people on the bus were killed. Authorities say Garay had a blood alcohol level of .11 when she died. The legal limit is .08.

The CHP report said the bus driver had no way to avoid the SUV, which was left without lights when it overturned.

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