No charges filed against driver in North Bay double-fatal crash

Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for Sue Hufford, who was an elementary school music teacher.
March 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office delayed filing charges Friday against a Rohnert Park man in connection with an alleged distracted driving crash that killed two women on Saturday.

Nicholas Lee Tognozzi, 30, will return to Sonoma County Superior Court on April 17. Chief Deputy District Attorney Diana Gomez said the prosecution needs the results of a urine test on Tognozzi and additional discovery information about the crash before filing charges.

Tognozzi remains out of custody on $100,000 bail.

He was driving a 2005 GMC Sierra at 55-65 mph east on state Highway 12 when he looked up after checking his phone and noticed traffic ahead of him had stopped, CHP Officer Keri Post said.

The truck struck the rear of a 2001 Toyota Camry about 850 feet west of Farmers Lane, pushing the Camry into the rear of a 2005 Suzuki Aerio. All the vehicles were in the same lane, Post said.

Tognozzi told the CHP he could not stop in time, Post said.

The back seat passengers, Susan Hufford, 53, and Sharon Hufford, 74, both of Santa Rosa, died instantly, the CHP said. The front seat passenger, Donald Hufford, 74, of Santa Rosa, suffered major injuries and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The Toyota driver, Jay Randolph Hufford, 54, of Santa Rosa suffered a head laceration. Susan Hufford was Jay Hufford's wife, Sharon Hufford was his mother and Donald Hufford is his father.

Tognozzi was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of a drug causing death. He posted $100,000 bail and was released from the Sonoma County jail on Sunday.

The CHP said it's believed Tognozzi was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.

Tognozzi's attorney Matthew Freeman said no alcohol was found in Tognozzi's blood.

Gomez said a sample of Tognozzi's urine was taken, but she is unaware there was a blood test. Gomez said the urine test will show if there was alcohol or marijuana in Tognozzi's system, but unlike alcohol, there is no quantitative amount of marijuana that determines a person is legally under the influence in California.

"It depends on the opinion of the police officer and corroboration by blood and urine tests," Gomez said.

Susan Hufford was a music teacher in the Mark West Union School District. A vigil is planned this evening at the San Miguel Elementary School's multi-purpose room in Larkfield.

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