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Mother Says Daughter Was Left to Drown in Canal Following Suspected DUI Crash

YUBA CITY -- A man has been arrested on suspicion of DUI and may face attempted manslaughter charges after leaving his female passenger to die after crashing a car into a canal off Clements Road, west of Yuba City.

Around 2 a.m., a man, identified by the CHP as Travis Stanton, was driving on Clements Road in a silver Mercedes sedan when the car left the road and landed upside down in a canal. Stanton was able to free himself from the car as it filled with water, but law enforcement officials say he left 23-year-old Megan Russel in the car to drown.

A witness reported Stanton said he had just gone for a swim and was fine when asked if he needed help. The same witness spotted the car in the canal down the road and called 911. When officers responded to the area, they spotted Stanton jogging in the opposite direction of the crash. He, again, told officers he had gone swimming and was fine. CHP officers detained the man and took him to the crash scene.

When officers asked Stanton if there were any passengers in the car, he said no. As they were talking to him, officers heard a muffled gurgle coming from the vehicle. They discovered a female passenger in the car. When rescuers got to Russell, her lungs had filled with water and her body temperature was 90 degrees and she had stopped breathing.

"Dead ... She was dead when they pulled her out," said Rusell's mother, Wendy Alnajdawi.

Rescuers used CPR and rushed Russell to the hospital where she was brought back to life.

Stanton was booked at Sutter County Jail. His bail was raised from $100,000 to $1 million due to the circumstances of the events and his prior history. The suspect has faced prior DUI charges and was driving on a suspended license.

"It angers me that he basically left her there, like she was a piece of trash," Alnajdawi said.

Russell is in intensive care, but breathing on her own, talking and looking forward to going home.