Driver in fatal DUI crash found guilty of murder sentenced to 15 to life

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Posted at 9:23 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 00:24:43-04

The drunk driver that crashed into a Jeep killing a mother and her five-year-old son and injuring her three-year-old daughter has been sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life plus seven years in prison.

In November 2017, Juan Garcia was driving his 2002 Jeep southbound on Highway 99, north of Highway 119 and slowed to a stop in the center median divider and turned on his hazard lights to change a flat tire. Daniel Mejia, 22 at the time, was driving under the influence when he crashed into the back of Garcia's vehicle.

Officials said Mejia, now 24, was driving with a blood alcohol concentration three times the legal limit, going over 100 miles an hour through multiple counties, weaving on and off the road, cutting off traffic, and triggering multiple 911 calls and police attempts to intercept him.

Authorities said Mejia plowed into the family's disabled vehicle while going 98 miles an hour, with his accelerator pedal pushed 98% to the floor and a half-empty six-pack of beer at his side.

According to the District Attorney, "as a result of the collision, Karla Mendoza and her five-year-old son, Axel, were both killed. Additionally, three-year-old Zoey Mendoza was severely injured."

In addition to the two counts of Second Degree Murder, Mejia was also found guilty of two counts of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated and Driving Under the Influence.