Karen Yvonne Schwamb, age 51, of Twain, was sentenced May 7 to the maximum term of 14 years in state prison by the Honorable Janet Hilde.
Schwamb had been convicted March 19 of three felony counts of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated. Schwamb’s conviction stems from an incident on Feb. 5, 2018, when Schwamb was driving her Subaru Outback eastbound in the Feather River Canyon on Highway 70 approaching Soda Creek Road. Schwamb was arguing with her passenger and was later determined to have a blood alcohol content of .05 as well as prescription drugs in her system. As Schwamb approached a curve in the highway she crossed the double yellow lines to pass another vehicle and struck a westbound Ford F150 pickup truck, killing the driver (Tom Fridrich), and a motorcycle, killing the driver (John Lowe) and passenger (Crystal Smith).
The emotional-90 minute hearing was attended by approximately 30 friends and family members of the victims – many of whom provided powerful testimony as to how the defendant’s killing of their loved ones impacted their lives. At the conclusion of the evidentiary portion of the hearing, and after additional statements by Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister and Schwamb’s attorney, Joseph Tully of Redding, Judge Hilde expressed her sympathy for the victims’ families and stressed the seriousness of Schwamb’s crime in imposing the maximum sentence allowed by law of 14 years in state prison.
After the hearing, District Attorney David Hollister expressed his appreciation for the patience and dignity of the victims’ family and friends and the incredibly powerful statements made during the hearing. Hollister added he was relieved for the friends and families that this chapter in this horrible tragedy had drawn to a close with the sentencing of Schwamb to the maximum the law allows.