|For Immediate Release
Case # 11CF3062 May 3, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
DRUNKEN DRIVER SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CRASHING INTO MOTHER CROSSING STREET WITH HER TWO CHILDREN AND KILLING HER 2-YEAR-OLD BOY
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver was sentenced today to 16 years in state prison for killing a 2-year-old boy by crashing into the toddler and his mother and baby sister as they crossed the street. Angel Alberto Cruz Perez, 24, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury March 28, 2013, of one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, hit and run with permanent injury or death, and one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a license, with sentencing enhancement allegations for causing great bodily injury to a child under 5 years old, fleeing the scene, and an additional injured person.
At approximately 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2011, Perez purchased and consumed four buckets of beer with a friend at Mariscos Ensenada Restaurant in Santa Ana. Each bucket contains the equivalent amount of six 12-ounce bottles of beer.
At approximately 6:20 p.m., Perez left the restaurant with his friend and drove while intoxicated in his Toyota sports utility vehicle (SUV) with his friend in the passenger seat. He did not possess a valid California driver’s license. As Perez drove northbound on Bewley Street and approached the 5th Street intersection, he failed to yield to crossing pedestrian Yesenia Romero, who was carrying her 1-year-old daughter and holding her 2-year-old son Darwin Almeida’s hand.
Perez ran a stop sign and hit Almeida. The force of the impact caused Romero to lose grip of her son’s hand, and Almeida was pulled under the vehicle. Perez hit Romero with his vehicle as she carried her daughter in her arms, knocking her onto the front hood of the SUV and throwing her back on the ground. After hitting the three victims, Perez fled the scene back to his home without offering help or aid.
The children’s father, who worked across the street from the intersection, heard the commotion and ran outside to find his family had been hurt in the crash. Witnesses contacted police with Perez’s license plate number and a description of the SUV. The Santa Ana Police Department arrested Perez at his home.
Almeida was pronounced dead enroute to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. Romero suffered abrasions to her knees. Her 1-year-old daughter was not injured.
During the sentencing today, Romero delivered an emotional victim impact statement before the court describing how she missed waking up and seeing her son Almeida in the morning and hearing from him how much he loved her. She went on to describe her emotional pain when having to explain to her daughter why her brother is no longer with her.
Deputy District Attorney Anna McIntire of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.