Spitzer: No criminal charges related to 2017 traffic collision that killed Laguna Niguel teacher

by in News

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has decided that he cannot legally or ethically file criminal charges related to a 2017 Laguna Niguel traffic collision that left a popular teacher dead.

Spitzer’s decision, outlined in a letter Monday to an attorney representing the teacher’s widow, comes a year after prosecutors decided to drop vehicular manslaughter charges against Jamie Mulford, the driver who initially was accused of causing the fatal traffic accident.

Prosecutors have spent nearly $60,000 on consulting experts and have “left no stone unturned and exhausted all possible investigative resources” in looking into whether anyone can be held criminal responsible for the Jan. 25, 2017 death of Scott Clark, Spitzer wrote in the letter.

“Based on all the available evidence, we are unable to legally and ethically file criminal charges in this case,” Spitzer wrote. “This is not a decision that was made lightly, but it is the only decision which I could legally make.”

Attorney Rick Welsh, who is representing Clark’s family, said he and Christy Clark, Scott’s wife, met with Spitzer personally on Monday afternoon prior to the letter being released publicly.

“My client was not surprised at all. She was disappointed obviously,” Welsh said. “I know these are not easy cases. That doesn’t mean you don’t try them.”

Clark, a longtime fifth-grade teacher at Laguna Niguel Elementary School and a triathlete, was training for a race in Colorado when he was struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk at Alicia Parkway and Niguel Road. Suffering from severe head trauma and multiple fractures, he was hospitalized for two weeks before succumbing to his injuries.

Law enforcement officials at the time of the accident acknowledged that two vehicles were involved, and that one of the drivers, Mulford, was arrested and charged following an initial Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigation.

Prosecutors have not publicly released any additional details about the crash.

Welsh said Clark’s family members were initially told by law enforcement that there was a road rage incident involving the two drivers prior to the fatal accident.

After the charges were dismissed, Mulford filed a civil lawsuit against Christy Clark and the other driver, alleging they had made defamatory statements by blaming Mulford for Scott Clark’s death.

In filings made in connection with the civil lawsuit before it was dismissed, Clark’s attorney, Clancy Haynes, wrote that the accident reconstruction report had exonerated Mulford, and noted that there was no physical evidence implicating her in Clark’s death.

Mulford’s attorney wrote in the court filings that Mulford had been turning on a green light from Niguel onto Alicia when the driver of a Mercedes tried to speed around her, side-swiped her vehicle and then “raced on” into the intersection before striking Clark.

Haynes could not be reached for comment Tuesday about Spitzer’s letter.

According to court records, Mulford also has sued the California Department of Motor Vehicles to get her driver’s license back. The case, which is still ongoing, marks the second time she has filed a lawsuit against the DMV to overturn a decision regarding her driver’s license.

In 2010, Mulford was arrested after allegedly striking and killing a man who was walking on the eastbound 10 Freeway in Alhambra.

Mulford, in a written declaration filed in connection with one of her lawsuits against the DMV, acknowledged pleading no contest to a DUI charge related to the Alhambra incident. She also acknowledged being convicted of two prior DUI’s.

Welsh said the Clark family is still seeking public records related to the fatal crash – including police reports, audio or video recordings and witness statements – before deciding what to do next.