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April 5, 2018

Driver faces manslaughter charge in vet’s traffic death

Dr. Kathryn M. Krista died at the scene of the Jan. 5 head-on crash west of Middleburg.
Head-on crash. Sounded like a bomb went off.
— Brian Ganey, witness to Jan. 5 accident
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
A witness likened the sound of the deadly traffic accident in Northern Fauquier to an exploding bomb.

“Total devastation,” Brian Ganey said of the Jan. 5 collision on Route 50, just west of Middleburg, that killed Kathryn M. Krista, a 41-year-old veterinarian with Piedmont Equine Practice near The Plains.

Authorities charged Wilian A. Mendoza, 22, of Winchester, with involuntary manslaughter in Dr. Krista’s death.

A Fauquier Court Circuit Court grand jury on May 29 will decide whether to indict Mr. Mendoza on the charge.

If convicted, he could be sentenced up to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Mendoza — driving a 2004 Dodge Durango in the westbound lane of Route 50 — told state police that he had fallen asleep when his vehicle crossed the center line and struck Dr. Krista’s 2016 Ford Explorer. He claimed to have no recollection of the accident.

The defendant also admitted he had fallen asleep twice more behind the wheel before the 3 p.m. accident, according to investigators.

The apprentice plumber drove from work in Northern Virginia toward his Stephens City home when the fatal accident took place.

Alone in her vehicle, Dr. Krista of Bluemont drove east toward Middleburg. The well-regarded veterinarian died at the scene near the St. Louis Road intersection.

Mr. Mendoza suggested to investigators that he had been tired because of a long day on the job and because he had stayed up until 11 o’clock the night before the accident — past his typical bedtime — to attend a function at his Winchester church.

Mr. Ganey on Wednesday testified in a Fauquier County General District Court preliminary hearing.

The stone mason drove along Route 50 from Northern Virginia toward his Winchester home, he told Judge J. Gregory Ashwell.

In his rear and side view mirrors, he first spotted the defendant driving “erratically” east of Middleburg on Route 50, Mr. Ganey testified.

Both east and west of Middleburg, Mr. Mendoza crossed the highway’s center line at least seven times before the collision, the witness said.

Additionally, “he’d tailgate me and back off,” Mr. Ganey said of the defendant.

He hoped that Mr. Mendoza would pass him so he could more safely “react” to the defendant’s movements, the witness said.

The accident occurred within feet of him, Mr. Ganey recalled.

“Head-on crash,” he said. “Sounded like a bomb went off.”

That stretch of the highway has a 50-mph speed limit, he told the court.

Immediately after the accident, Mr. Ganey stopped his 2002 Chevrolet Suburban and ran to Dr. Krista’s vehicle.

The force of the impact crushed the front of the victim’s Ford Explorer, ejecting the engine, Mr. Ganey said.

He tried unsuccessfully to open the driver and passenger doors.

Mr. Ganey and another man then pealed back the windshield.

Unable to detect her pulse, Mr. Ganey then checked the condition of Mr. Mendoza, pinned in his vehicle. Mr. Mendoza received treatment for various injuries at Fairfax Inova Hospital.

The defendant, who appeared in court Wednesday in a wheelchair, did not testify during the hearing.

Judge Ashwell found sufficient probable cause for the case to go up to the grand jury.

Her husband Ben survives Dr. Krista.

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Silii · April 5, 2018 at 4:46 pm
Thank you Mr. Ganey for trying your absolute best to save Dr. Krista. Thank you, too, for testifying. Dr. Krista's violent death is beyond understanding of everyone who knew her, a gentle, soft spoken, wonderful, caring person and vet. I have no idea about the veracity of the killer's story but, regardless, he killed her.
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