California 911 dispatcher, mother dies after being hit head-on by a drunk driver

SAN LEANDRO, CA - Officials with the San Leandro Police Department (SLPD) have confirmed the death of an Alameda County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) 911 dispatcher, who was reportedly killed by a suspected drunk driver late Sunday night, May 5th. 

According to CBS News, a press released by SLPD said that at 11:14 p.m., on Sunday May 5th, officers investigated a reported rollover vehicle collision at E. 14th St. and 150th Avenue. Responding officers stated that they found a female driver of a vehicle that was struck unconscious and suffering from major, life-threatening injuries. 

The investigation concluded that the victim's car was broadsided as she crossed the intersection and rolled over after impact from the car that hit her. Investigators said that the driver of the second vehicle that was involved, which appears to have struck the first car, was uninjured. She was arrested for driving under the influence and was transported by police to jail. 

KTVU reported that the identity of the suspect has been released. The woman, 32-year-old Lynette Davis, has been charged with suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and DUI. The victim, 37-year-old Antoinette Finau, was honored last month in a video posted by the sheriff's office.

In that video she said, "Knowing when they call 911 because they're having an emergency, that I get to be the voice that makes sure they get the assistance that they need, it's definitely rewarding and so fulfilling at the end of the day. It's a blessing to be here."

Finau's mother, Teri Gudino, described what she would miss most about her daughter, saying, "Her voice, her laughter, her outlook." Finau was on her way to work when the deadly crash happened. The crash happened just blocks away from the ACSO's dispatch center. Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene first. Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez said, "One of our deputies recognized right away that it was one of our own." Sanchez said that Finau was a single mother and a team player.

She added, "Antoinette got into her car, left her family, and was ready to go to work. She was coming to work on an overtime shift after she had already completed her regular hour shift because she's that person." Her family says that Finau was the problem-solver with the "gift of gab," which is certainly a valuable asset for a dispatcher to have. 

Her brother, Sione Finau, said, "She was someone that all of us could have called when we had a problem. So, the fact that she's actually the 911 person answering the phone, it's perfect. It was the perfect job for her."

Finau was transported to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. SLPD Lieutenant Jeffrey Walton said in a statement, "The San Leandro Police Department offers our condolences to the family of the victim as well as the men and women of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. This is a tragic loss of life and a painful reminder of the dangers of driving while impaired."

As her flag-draped casket was wheeled out of the hospital, family and law enforcement paid tribute. A procession escorted her body to the coroner's office bureau in Oakland. Finau's brother said, "It's hard to swallow that she's gone, but I wouldn't wish ill will on anybody." Finau's family said that despite their heartache, they do not harbor any anger towards the suspect. 

Finau's daughter, who is 11-years-old, is trying to come to terms with the tragedy that happened just before Mother's Day. Manu Finau, the victim's father said, "She's going through the motions of expecting a text, expecting her mom to call." According to KRON4, in a Facebook post, ASCO wrote, "She died a senseless and tragic death at the hands of a drunk driver. We will remember Antoinette as someone who lived her life to the fullest and touched the hearts of those around her. Though her time with us was short (almost three years), Antoinette impacted our agency with her sweet nature, kind heart, warm smile, and pride in being the voice on the other end of a call for help.

She was a loving mother, a sister, a daughter, and a friend to many. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Rest well, Antoinette. We will miss you."
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