Murrieta Police Department Press Release Dated 2/1/2018Murrieta- An 18 year old Murrieta woman was sentenced on Friday, January 26, 2018 to 4 years in prison for the DUI traffic collision that killed 26 year old Leah Jean-Lacher Reay.
Taylor Suzzanne Channel, 18 years of age, was sentenced to 4 years State Prison by Judge Kelly Hansen at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. Taylor’s case was unique since at the time of the collision, she was a 17 year old minor. In February 2017, The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office moved to have the case transferred from Juvenile Court to Superior Court. After a two day hearing in September 2017, a Juvenile Court judge ruled that Taylor should stand trial as an adult and the case was transferred to the Riverside County Superior Court.
On January 26, 2018, Taylor waived her right to a jury trial and plead guilty to a felony charge of Vehicular Manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. Victim Impact statements were read in court by Leah Reay’s parents, her husband, Kevin, Kevin’s parents and Leah’s best friend.
On Sunday January 22, 2017, at 9:06 pm, a fatal traffic collision occurred at Murrieta Hot Springs and Alta Murrieta. The collision was witnessed by an on duty Murrieta Police Sergeant who was driving west on Murrieta Hot Springs just east of Whitewood. The Sergeant observed a silver Chrysler 300, being driven by Taylor Channel, also traveling westbound, run a red light at Whitewood at a very high rate of speed. In addition to the red light violation, there was additional concern due to a very heavy period of rainfall and the roadways being flooded. The Sergeant attempted to catch up to the Chrysler 300 and activated his overhead lights, but was too far back to get the attention of the driver. Taylor continued at a high rate of speed in a downpour and ran the westbound Murrieta Hot Springs red light at Alta Murrieta.
Twenty six year old Leah Reay, driving a Toyota Yaris, was making a left turn on a green light from eastbound Murrieta Hot Springs to northbound Alta Murrieta when she was struck by the Chrysler 300 in the intersection. The impact killed Leah on impact.
Investigation revealed that Taylor was traveling at 84 miles per hour at the time of impact and was found to be under the influence of both alcohol and cocaine.
Primary Investigators on this case were Traffic Investigator Jennifer Metoyer and Corporal Matt Embrey who worked for weeks on the case prior to forwarding it to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for filing. Additional assistance was provided by 12 Murrieta Police Officers, a Murrieta Police Chaplain and CHP MAIT (Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team) Team Officers.
Officers have maintained a close relationship with Leah’s family throughout the entire process. Three officers and a police chaplain attended the final court proceedings to maintain our support for the family.
Efforts that the Murrieta Police Department make in order to try and reduce DUI related collisions involve DUI checkpoints and roving saturations with grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, a DUI Enforcement Unit, the Every 15 Minute program at local high schools, additional high school presentations, social media posts regarding drinking and driving and a Zero Tolerance Policy towards DUI drivers.
The Murrieta Police Department will be conducting a DUI/Driver License Checkpoint in the near future which will be in honor and memory of Leah Jean-Lacher Reay.
Murrieta File Number: 1701M-5058