SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - Santa Rosa Police say the 19-year-old-woman jailed for a fatal DUI crash, was driving on a suspended driver's license from a DUI arrest last year.
Rebecca Iris Guillory was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, for the collision that killed her 18-year-old friend, Michajla Bailey Kosteca Sunday night.
It happened in the Skyhawk neighborhood in east Santa Rosa, an upscale area where the speed limit is 25 mph.
Residents who heard the crash estimated Guillory was speeding at about 60 mph when she lost control and hit a sycamore tree, killing her passenger instantly.
"We're heartbroken about this. This is a very tight knit community," said passerby Melissa Pendaz, who heard the emergency sirens about 11 p.m.
"My heart goes out to the whole family, this is just a tragedy," she added, while pausing at a roadside memorial arranged with bouquets of flowers and notes.
The Chevy sedan did not leave a skid mark before it left the road, slammed into one tree, and then wrapped around another.
Neighbors heard the impact and ran to help but it was too late for Kosteca.
"The one that was deceased, her door was peeled back wide open and she was kind of laying on the ground," witness Greg Johnston told KTVU.
"I tried to get pulse but there was none," added girlfriend Sheila Peterson.
Guillory was pinned in the driver's seat, and conscious but disoriented, asking questions about where she was and what had happened.
"The driver actually asked me who was driving," witness Damion Asker told KTVU.
He tried to keep her calm and focused on him, so she wouldn't realize that her companion was dead.
Asker said he could see and smell liquor and marijuana, confirmed by investigators.
"Somebody who loses a friend will have to live with that for the rest of her life," said Asker emotionally, "and my personal opinion, is I think that's punishment enough."
Santa Rosa Police say Guillory had been house sitting in the neighborhood, and that the pair left the home to run a few errands when they crashed.
"It doesn't sound like they were at a party," observed Traffic Division Sgt. Summer Black " but we are still looking into their activities."
Black told KTVU the incident is a tragedy for both of the families involved.
"This is a terrible way to start the New Year, and Guillory is going to be held responsible for her actions," said Black, "so the message is, no amount of drugs or alcohol are safe."
Late Monday night, Kosteka's mother Wanda came to the crash site with some of her daughter's friends, to share memories.
Michajla, she says, was a "social butterfly" who had just turned 18 in November, and was working on getting her high school GED.
Wanda said she last spoke to her daughter a few hours before the accident, and that she had never met Guillory, who was a relatively new friend.
"It's always somebody's child," observed neighbor Peterson sadly, "and this was something that could have been prevented."
She and other witnesses will remember the helplessness they felt, along with new respect for first responders.
"For people who have to deal with that, day in and day out, as their job, my heart goes out to them," declared Asker, "and life is precious, it can change in a second."
A fund raising page has been established to help Michalja Bailey Kostecka's family with her burial expenses: gofundme.com/rest-easy-michajla.
Anyone with information about the crash is encouraged to contact. Officer Joshua Kertianis at (707) 543-3636.