On Thursday, June 25, 2020, at about 3:04 p.m., deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department- Morongo Basin Station responded to the intersection of Twentynine Palms Highway and Airway Avenue for a two-vehicle collision.
Through investigation, deputies discovered an Audi sedan traveling west on Twentynine Palms Highway, driven by Michael Wright, broadsided a Volkswagen driven by Rosemary Reynolds, who was traveling north through the intersection of Airway Avenue.
The drivers of both vehicles were transported to local hospitals. The passenger of the Volkswagen, Ramona Pedrosa, was transported to Hi-Desert Medical Center, where she later succumbed to her injuries. The Morongo Basin Major Accident Investigation Team (M.A.I.T.) responded and conducted the investigation.
During the investigation, it was determined Michael Wright, a 35-year-old Male Resident of Twentynine Palms, was driving impaired from cannabis use and unable to operate a vehicle safely. Due to injuries sustained, Wright was not arrested on the day of the incident; however, a case was prepared, and charges were filed through the San Bernardino Superior Court- Joshua Tree Office.
The news of Ramona Pedrosa’s death spread throughout the small town of Yucca Valley like wildfire. The 82-year-old had been a beloved member of the community for years, volunteering at the local senior center, and spending her days tending to her garden. Her death, caused by the recklessness of one man, had left a gaping hole in the community’s heart.
Michael Wright, the man responsible for the fatal collision, had been a known troublemaker in town. His frequent run-ins with the law and reckless behavior had earned him a less-than-stellar reputation. And now, with the news of Pedrosa’s death, the community’s anger towards him only intensified.
The trial was a painful process for everyone involved. Wright claimed that he had only smoked cannabis hours before the accident and did not feel impaired. However, the evidence presented by the prosecution painted a different picture. Wright’s THC levels were well above the permissible limit, and experts testified that his ability to operate a vehicle was compromised.
Finally, on Thursday, March 16, 2023. after months of agonizing hearings and testimonies, the verdict came. Michael Wright was found guilty of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Though it could never bring back Pedrosa, it was a small comfort to know that justice had been served.
But the scars of the tragedy would be forever etched into the community’s memory. Her empty chair at the senior center and her untended garden a constant reminder of what was lost. Yet, in their grief and pain, the community rallied together, offering support and love to those affected by the tragedy, a shining example of the human spirit in the face of adversity.