Drugged Driver Gets Life Sentence For 2015 Crash

A 53-year-old Redding man has been given the maximum sentence after pleading guilty to murder from a head-on crash that occurred in south Redding more than 3 years ago. On the morning of March 26th, 2015 a Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Vernon Simon Jr was northbound on Highway 273 at a high rate of speed. Simon had run the red light at Happy Valley Road and when he approached the intersection of Canyon Road in front of Win-River Casino, his car drifted into the southbound side and smashed head-on into a Ford Thunderbird driven by 57-year-old Russell Hager of Redding. The crash was captured on Win-River surveillance video. Hager was killed on impact. Simon sustained minor injuries. He was under the influence of methamphetamine, marijuana and Clonazepam, an anti-seizure medication. Simon was driving on a suspended license and was on probation from a prior DUI with injury from 2011. In February Simon decided to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder and admitted a prior strike. He returned to court with a new attorney and tried to change his plea. That motion was denied and Simon was given the maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

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