Jul 29, 2014
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Plea Postponed for Woman Charged in Fatal July Crash

A Pacific Palisades woman faces one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of 82-year-old William Howard Smerling last summer in Santa Monica.

Plea Postponed for Woman Charged in Fatal July Crash

An arraignment for the woman charged with fatally driving into an 82-year-old Santa Monica business owner this summer was postponed Thursday.

Cambria Lee Gordon, reportedly the wife of TV producer Howard Gordon, both residents of Pacific Palisades, was charged Dec. 7 with one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, according to the Santa Monica City Attorney's Office.

She is now scheduled to enter a plea 8:30 a.m. Feb. 3 at the airport branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, a clerk said.

The victim, William Howard Smerling, had retired from his family's business, on 26th Street before his death in August.


He succumbed one month after Gordon hit him as he shuffled across a marked crosswalk near the dry cleaning business. According to a police report, Gordon was reaching for her cell phone when she crashed into Smerling in her Toyota Highlander, throwing him into the nearby intersection, shattering his spine, wrist and pelvis.

"Gordon was driving south on 26th Street approaching Georgina Avenue, when she was looking for her cell phone that she thought had possibl[y] dropped on the passenger side floor board then noticed the cell phone on the front passenger seat," the report states. "As she looked up she noticed a pedestrian directly in front of her ... [she] attempted to emergency brake and collided with the pedestrian."

According to the report, Gordon was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She had reportedly just returned home from a trip to Isreal three days earlier, and felt jetlagged and had experienced vertigo.

The Smerling family has filed a civil suit against the Gordons, saying the misdemeanor charge doesn't go far enough.

“There’s a lawsuit because there’s a loss,” said Smerling’s son Robert.


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