WEOTT >> The woman who crashed her car into a tree off Highway 101 in January resulting in the death of the 21-year-old passenger has been arrested on suspicion of murder and was set to be arraigned at the Humboldt County Superior Courthouse last week.

Melissa Jean Munsell of Myers Flat was arrested on Friday, May 15 after a county sheriff’s deputy pulled over a vehicle she was riding in on Highway 101 near the Beatrice area, according to Lt. Wayne Hanson. After checking for warrants on Munsell and the other woman in the car, the deputy learned that Munsell had a warrant out for her arrest for a suspected murder charge, Hanson said. Munsell was booked in the county jail on suspicion of murder as well as for several bench warrants for two counts of driving on a suspended license and on suspicion of grand theft, according to the county jail booking report.

The suspected charges stem from a fatal crash on Highway 101 in January. On Jan. 13, at around 8 p.m., Munsell was driving northbound on Highway 101 in a 1995 Nissan Frontier SUV just north of Weott when she made a turn to the right and drove off the east side of the road. The vehicle then collided head-on with a tree, resulting in the death of the passenger — 21-year-old Kasandra Jean Hillaire of Myers Flat — who the California Highway Patrol determined was not wearing her seat belt. Drug impairment was considered a factor in the crash, according to the CHP.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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