Man convicted of fatal chain reaction in Irvine – NBC Los Angeles
A 25-year-old Las Vegas man was convicted on Tuesday of setting off an alcohol-fueled chain reaction on the Santa Ana Freeway in Irvine that killed a young mother and injured her 6-month-old son.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before convicting Irving Aguilar of second degree murder and one count of impaired driving causing injury with sentence increases for causing serious bodily harm to five victims.
Aguilar is due to be sentenced on December 17.
“When we flirt with death, don’t be shocked when it does,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman said. “That’s what Mr. Aguilar did.
Aguilar traveled to Orange County to hang out with friends and spend the night in an Airbnb in Anaheim, but instead decided to head home in his new Dodge Challenger, Feldman said. He drove with a blood alcohol level of 0.20%, halfway between two and three times the legal limit.
“He left in his three-month-old Dodge Challenger for Las Vegas at 111 mph,” Feldman said. “By his choices, by his decisions and his actions, Mr. Aguilar unequivocally unleashed a chain of events that death would be inevitable.”
The prosecutor called it a “four-phase” series of accidents that lasted more than 12 minutes.
Aguilar, who had been fined for driving 61 mph in a 35 mph zone in Las Vegas a few weeks before the crashes, never applied the brakes as he crashed into a Prius, traveling at 108 mph in heading south on the freeway near the Alton Parkway exit at 1:24 a.m. on August 23, 2018, Feldman said.
A tow truck driver, Aguilar, hastened to a halt when he saw the crash and tried to help Aguilar, whose broken down car blocked the expressways and expressways, Feldman said.
The Prius driver managed “on three tires” to “get off the road,” Feldman said. The Challenger was in a “dark stretch of the highway” with its lights off, Feldman said.
Another driver of a Dodge van ducked into a center bulkhead to avoid the broken down car, Feldman said.
Then three more vehicles crashed into Aguilar’s car, Feldman said.
One of the drivers spoke to a 911 dispatcher who was automatically called by the car’s onboard security system, Feldman said.
The driver, stuck in the upside down Ford Edge, recounts the cars crashing into the Challenger. The prosecutor called the jury which included the woman saying, “Oh my God, another person!”
In the final phase of the collisions, Maria Osuna, 25, of National City, was driving a Mitsubishi Spyder, one of three other vehicles that crashed into Aguilar’s vehicle and another car, Feldman said.
After crashing into the car, she pulled over and unbuckled her seat belt to check on her baby’s condition when a van overturned her vehicle, killing her, Feldman said. Her son suffered fractures to his skull and neck.
Another diver suffered a fractured vertebra, another suffered a broken nose, another suffered a concussion, and another victim fractured her ankle and nose.
Aguilar admitted to agents of the California Highway Patrol that he knew drunk driving was bad and dangerous and even thought he had to stop drinking in order to get home, Feldman said. Aguilar concluded he was “drunk” but “could still function,” the prosecutor said.
Aguilar’s attorney, Fred Fascenelli, said: “It really is a case of personal liability, but it is a case where personal liability ends and another person’s liability begins.”
The defense attorney admitted that his client “drove drunk and was involved in an accident which he caused”, but said the chain of events was “broken” when others “inattentive” drivers crashed into Aguilar’s car.
“Ultimately, Ms. Osuna’s death was not the direct result of what was set in motion by Mr. Aguilar,” Fascenelli said.
He said it was a “clear night” and that there were “no obstacles other than their inattention”.