Teen apologizes for crash that killed Tongan royals

Four days after her acquittal of felony vehicular manslaughter charges, Edith Delgado, in her first public statement, broke down while apologizing for her role in the car crash that killed two members of the Tongan royal family, saying if she had a chance to “trade places with those people,” she would.

Delgado, 19, of Redwood City, sat beside her attorney, Randy Moore, in his downtown San Jose office Monday, and reflected on the events following the crash on July 5, 2006, when she sideswiped a red Ford Explorer carrying the royal couple and caused it to roll over several times on U.S. Highway 101 in Menlo Park.

“I am very sorry for everything that has happened,” Delgado said while clutching tissue. “It’s something I’ve lived with since that day and something I’m going to have to live with. If I had a chance to trade places with those people, I would.”

After a two-and-a-half week trial, Delgado was convicted Thursday on three counts of misdemeanor manslaughter for her role in the deaths of Tonga’s Prince Tu’ipelehake, 54; Princess Kaimana, 45; and and their driver Vinisia Hefa, 36, of East Palo Alto. She was acquitted of three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. She was released Thursday night after posting $40,000 bail.

Prosecutors had claimed she was racing an unidentified black Cadillac Escalade while weaving in and out of traffic in her white Ford Mustang.

Delgado, a former Redwood High School student and Bank of America employee, declined to talk about the crash, except to say, “I wasn’t racing.”

She said she is too scared to get behind the wheel, and her Mustang, which prosecutors described during the trial as “her pride and joy,” now represents painful memories. “I don’t want it and I don’t want to see it.”

She also described the frustration ofnot being able to speak out after her arrest. “I just wanted to scream and say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ but I couldn’t talk about the case,” she said.

Moore and Delgado will be back in court Aug. 24 to face sentencing.

bfoley@examiner.com

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