|For Immediate Release
Case # 09NF1004
November 19, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
DRUNKEN FREEWAY DRIVER SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR CRASHING CAR INTO TWO MEN, KILLING ONE, WHILE THEY WERE CHANGING A TIRE
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver was sentenced today to six years in state prison for killing one man and injuring another by crashing his car into the victims as they attempted to change a tire on the freeway shoulder. Felipe Navarro Orona, 45, Garden Grove, pleaded guilty to the court Oct. 26, 2009, to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. The People advocated for a state prison sentence close to the 13 year maximum allowed by law.
At approximately 3:00 a.m. on April 18, 2009, Orona was driving while under the influence of alcohol southbound on Interstate 5 near Harbor Boulevard in his Ford truck. The defendant was driving on the right shoulder of the freeway and failed to see and avoid two men, Jose Castellanos and Joe Rodriguez, who were changing a car tire. As Orona attempted to take the Harbor Boulevard off-ramp, he crashed his car into the two victims at approximately 55 mph.
Castellanos, 23, died at the scene due to blunt force trauma to his head, body, and legs. Rodriguez, 21, was transported to the hospital and suffered fractures to his skull, jaw, and sinus.
When contacted by police at the scene, Orona displayed objective signs of intoxication including slurred speech, bloodshot and watery eyes, and omitting an odor of alcohol. Two hours after the crash, the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .15 percent.
During the sentencing today, Rodriguez gave a victim impact statement to the court describing his injuries and recovery, and explaining that the loss of his cousin Castellanos was like losing a big brother. Castellanos’ fiancé also addressed the court, stating that she and the victim had planned to get married and have a family, but her life was taken with his the day he died.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.