East County transient man convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter in 2017 Hwy 4 fatal crash

Crash in Pittsburg on Oct. 4, 2017 took life of Discovery Bay woman

On October 2, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant Frank J. Newkirk, a 26-year-old transient, guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter. The victim, Theresa Frazer, was killed on October 4, 2017 during the morning commute on Highway 4 in Pittsburg. Newkirk was driving westbound on Highway 4 in a 2004 Chevy Tahoe in the slow lane when the incident occurred.

Newkirk now faces a sentence of up to six years in state prison. According to the D.A.’s Office Public Information Officer Scott Alonso, “Newkirk was a transient and his last known address according to court documents was Discovery Bay. But he lived all over including Bay Point and may have lived in Antioch at the time of the crash.”

Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari prosecuted the case behalf of the People for this felony jury trial. Sentencing for Newkirk will occur on November 16 by the Honorable Barry Baskin in Department 7 at the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.

On the morning of October 4, 2017, Newkirk was driving his girlfriend’s 2004 Chevy Tahoe without a license and careened into Frazer’s Nissan Sentra. Frazer was driving her friend to work when the accident occurred. The impact of the crash spun the Nissan around and crushed the vehicle. In total, five cars were impacted by Newkirk’s crash into Frazer.

California Highway Patrol investigated the crash and found Newkirk was traveling at an unsafe speed between 54 to 61 miles per hour in traffic with cars slowed in front of him due to an unrelated accident. Evidence gathered by CHP showed the vehicle’s brakes were never activated before the crash. Newkirk also did not take his foot off the throttle. Newkirk’s collision led to the unfortunate death of Frazer, a 47-year-old mother of three children. Restitution for this case will be determined at a later date.

Traffic collisions can cause very serious injuries and even result in fatalities. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, traffic fatalities are increasing, totaling 3,623 in 2016 and serious traffic injuries are on the rise.

Earlier this year our office filed the following counts against Newkirk:

  • Count 1, Vehicular Manslaughter – Felony
  • Count 2, Driving Without a License – Misdemeanor

Case information: People v. Frank J. Newkirk, Docket Number 05-181281-7.

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