MIAMI -- The victim of a notorious gang rape in New Bedford, Mass. was drunk when she slammed into a utlility pole, killing herself and injuring her two daughters, a medical examiner said today.
Cheryl Araujo, 25, had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the level at which one is considered legally drunk when she lost control of her car in south Miami Dec. 14, said Dr. Valerie Rao of the Dade County Medical Examiner's office.
'To be legally intoxicated in the state of Florida the limit is .10 percent,' she said. 'She was at .29 percent.'
Florida Highway Patrol investigators initially had said there was no evidence alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash. A Florida Highway patrol officer said officials were unavailable for comment.
Boston Metro Police spokesman Larry Gillis said someone with 0.29 blood alcohol content would be 'falling down drunk.''
'A person would be staggering, have slurred speech and a wild look in their eyes and be very unsteady on their feet,' he said.
Rao said she could not determine how drunk Araujo was at the time of the crash.
'Unless one knows the bahavior patterns of an individual under the influence of various amounts of alcohol, one can never predict how a person is going to behave,' she said. 'Some people with higher levels are able to drive in perfectly good fashion. It is very hard to make a determination, but I'm sure that she was incapacitated to some extent because of the level of alcohol.'
A person weighing 120 pounds -- Araujo's approximate weight -- would have to drink eight or nine drinks in three hours to reach a 0.29 blood alcohol level, police estimated.
The crash occurred at 4:45 p.m. as Araujo drove her daughters, Carolynn, 6, and Jessica, 4, to Santa's Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park, about 20 miles from her home.
The 1980 Chevrolet Monza Araujo was driving veered off the road about 4 miles from the house, spinning around and striking a cement utility pole on the driver's side, police said.
Carolynn Araujo, who was wearing a safety belt, suffered bumps and bruises in the crash. Jessica Araujo was not wearing a seatbelt, and suffered a broken clavicle and a broken wrist.
Results of tests to determine whether there were also drugs in Araujo's system will be available in about a month, Rao said.
In 1984, four men were convicted of raping Araujo on a pool table in Big Dan's tavern in New Bedford.
The men were sentenced to serve from six to 12 years in prison. All have appealed their convictions.
Soon after the trial, Araujo moved from New Bedford to Florida.
She spent more than half of the past year in a Miami detoxification center and a residential drug and alcohol abuse treatment program for women, officials said.