H-MORRO BAY

Apr 19, 2012 12:38 AM by Ariel Wesler

CHP: Driver charged with murder after crash kills passenger

The California Highway Patrol identified the victim killed in a crash on Highway 1 early Wednesday morning as a 27-year-old Cayucos woman, and the man charged with murder for causing the crash.

Ashley Malmen was a passenger in Michael Kessler's car. The CHP says 36-year-old Kessler was on drugs at the time of the crash.

Officers says not only was he on drugs, he was also driving with a suspended license from a previous DUI.

The CHP says because of Kessler's intoxication, he drove off the roadway, hit a paddle marker- then veered across the northbound lanes before hitting a cement wall.
Malmen was thrown from the vehicle and the CHP reports she was not wearing a seatbelt.

Kessler fled the scene but was tracked down nearby. He is in custody on multiple charges including murder. As of Wednesday night, Kessler is in fair condition at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

KSBY News has received dozens of caring comments on our Facebook page about Malmen. These are words she had written on her own page about herself.

"I thank God for the special people I have had in my life as well as all the blessings I was born with. My advice to all is if you love someone...be loyal, truthful, and be yourself. You don't always get a second chance."

According to Malmen's Facebook page, she graduated from Coast Union High School in Cambria in 2003.

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