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Parolee in fatal 2007 Highway 101 crash faces new charges

  • Ryan Karr in 2010. (PD FILE, 2010)

A Windsor man on parole for causing a fiery rear-end car crash on Highway 101 that killed five members of a family in 2007 made his first court appearance Tuesday after being arrested over the weekend on several new charges.

Ryan Karr, 32, was taken into custody by Petaluma police and state parole officers, who received an anonymous tip that Karr was at a Too $hort rap concert Saturday at the Phoenix Theater.

In court Tuesday, Karr said he was trying to find a lawyer. He was arraigned on seven new charges, including failure to yield to police, hit-and-run, reckless driving, resisting arrest, driving on a suspended license and malicious mischief.

The case was postponed until Friday after probation officials sought more time to review the police reports and consider new charges.

An arrest warrant was out for Karr since December, when he is alleged to have fled from Santa Rosa Junior College officers who had stopped him for a suspected driving violation and believed he was intoxicated.

Karr was also wanted in connection with a June 2012 domestic violence arrest. Karr pleaded not guilty in court on that charge but failed to show up for subsequent hearings.

Karr is on state parole from his 2010 conviction on five counts of felony vehicular manslaughter in the 2007 crash. Karr crashed into the back of a Honda Civic in heavy traffic on Highway 101 north of Santa Rosa.

The car caught fire and five family members died, including a 7-year-old boy. A surviving boy, now 11, suffered burns over 70 percent of his body and lost part of one leg, arm and an ear.

Karr's blood showed he had both marijuana and cocaine in his system, although experts disagreed on how much either drug impaired him.

Karr was sentenced to the minimum sentence of four years in prison. He served half the time.

He is being held without bail and is expected to enter pleas to the charges on Friday morning.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

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