Crime - Sacto 911

State corrections officer pleads guilty after binge drinking led to crash that killed Elk Grove man

Aftermath of July crash near Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Crest Way in Elk Grove. Jeffrey Fields, 63, was killed in the incident
Aftermath of July crash near Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Crest Way in Elk Grove. Jeffrey Fields, 63, was killed in the incident Elk Grove Police Department

The state corrections officer who killed an Elk Grove man in a drunken rush hour wreck in July pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Rajnal Nath, 39, of Elk Grove could face more than 14 years in prison with the plea to charges of felony vehicular manslaughter, hit and run, and driving under the influence in the death of Jeffrey Fields, 63, of Elk Grove, before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jaime Roman.

Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies immediately took Nath into custody to await a Feb. 3 sentencing date.

Over three hours, Nath downed four shots of Irish whiskey, two shots of Tequila and four 22-ounce glasses of beer before climbing into his sport utility vehicle.

Nath had been a youth corrections officer since 2000 and was assigned to N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton at the time of the fatal wreck. He was placed on administrative leave following his August arrest by Elk Grove police. It is unclear whether Nath was dismissed by the corrections department.

Prosecutors on Thursday said Nath dropped into a Laguna Boulevard restaurant and bar on a Friday afternoon last July 8 for drinks. It was a little past 2 p.m. During the next three hours, Nath downed four shots of Irish whiskey, two shots of tequila and four 22-ounce glasses of beer before climbing into his sport-utility vehicle.

Nath backed into a car in the parking lot of Chicago Fire restaurant before driving onto Laguna and heading into rush hour stop-and-go traffic. Prosecutor Clark said Nath ran two stop lights at speeds of up to 80 mph.

By 5:15 p.m., Nath had slammed his SUV into the back of a Toyota Prius that slowed in traffic near Laguna Boulevard and Laguna Crest Way, instantly killing Fields and causing a seven-car chain reaction wreck that injured Nath and two other motorists.

Nath and two other people were taken to hospitals. His blood alcohol level was measured at 0.21 an hour after the crash, nearly three times the 0.08 legal limit.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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