A woman arrested in an alleged drunk driving crash that killed a 3-year-old boy on a highway in San Ramon last Friday had been arrested earlier this year for a DUI in Pleasanton that involved endangering her own child, according to Pleasanton police.
Yarenit Malihan, the wife of an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy, is accused of killing Elijah Dunn in a crash on Interstate Highway 680 near Bollinger Canyon Road around 6:20 p.m. Friday when she crashed into a black 2007 Toyota Camry that was parked on the side of the road, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash injured several people inside the vehicle including an 11-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl, and ultimately killed Elijah.
The tragic case came months after Malihan was arrested on suspicion of DUI at her home in the 400 block of Mission Drive shortly after 7 p.m. on June 7, Pleasanton police spokesman Sgt. Larry Cox said.
A citizen had called police stating that Malihan was standing behind a grocery and appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance, according to Cox.
Cox said when officers went to her home, they made contact with Malihan and noticed that she showed visible signs of intoxication. An investigation determined she had been driving under the influence of alcohol with her 10-year-old daughter in the vehicle prior to the officers’ arrival.
Malihan was arrested, and booked at the Santa Rita jail on suspicion of driving under the influence as well as child endangerment.
Following Friday’s crash, Malihan was treated for minor injuries at San Ramon Regional Medical Center and was later booked into the county jail. She has since posted bail.
Cox said several people had reached out on social media criticizing the Police Department for not suspending Malihan’s license after her first DUI, and that perhaps if they had, Friday’s tragedy wouldn’t have occurred.
“Police do not suspend licenses, and that night we went through the correct process, which is to refer the case to the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Cox said.
According to police, officers filled out a DMV form the night of her first arrest, which would become Malihan’s temporary license until she attended a formal hearing to determine the status of her license.
Cox said he doesn’t know what the status of Malihan’s license would have been after the hearing, but that a license being suspended is not always the outcome for driving under the influence.
“It depends on the circumstances of each case, but the police do not have the authority to suspend licenses,” he said Alameda County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said Malihan’s attorney appeared in court on Aug. 31 for the DUI incident in Pleasanton, but she did not know what happened at the hearing.
Malihan has not yet been charged in Contra Costa County for the second alleged DUI.
A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Elijah’s family has raised more than $82,000 as of this afternoon. The page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/elijah-dunn.