Driver won't be charged for crash that killed mom, daughter

No charges are being filed against a driver for a New Year's Day crash in Southern California that killed a 9-year-old girl and her mother.

The Orange County district attorney's office announced that it won't charge Melvin Branch at this time for lack of evidence. However, the investigation continues.

Branch, who'd just celebrated his 30th birthday, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter at around 1 in the morning Tuesday after a four-car pileup in the Garden Grove area.

The crash killed 33-year-old Jolene Gardner and her daughter Payton Castillo, who were in a pickup truck heading home to Hawthorne after a New Year's Eve party.

Branch was detained but broke the window of a Highway Patrol car and got out before he was wrestled to the ground.


Dawn Kamber