Driver gets prison for DUI crash that killed coworker

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO — A motorist who was drunk on the way to work when he fatally struck a friend and co-worker as he stood next to a parked car in Mira Mesa was sentenced Tuesday to four years in state prison.

Matias Escobar Aguilar, 26, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

prison sentenceEfrain Gonzales, 28, was standing next to a car in the 10900 block of Sunny Meadow Street when he was struck by Aguilar’s westbound 1993 Ford Ranger about 6:45 a.m. on Aug. 14. The victim died at the scene.

The victim’s sister, Angelica Argueta, said she looked at Gonzales as more than a brother because he stepped in to help her after their father abandoned the family.

“He would tell me, `Don’t worry little sister,”’ Argueta told Judge Laura Halgren.

Argueta — who has five children — said she and her brother were looking into buying a house for their family when he was killed.

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto said Aguilar’s blood-alcohol level was 0.18 percent two-and-a-half hours after the collision, more than twice the legal limit for driving. He was arrested at the scene.

Coto said Aguilar drank 12 regular beers and three 24-ounce beers in the 12 hours before the accident.

A half-full can of beer was in Aguilar’s truck after he hit and killed his friend, the prosecutor said.

Coto said Aguilar had been warned not to drink and drive by another friend who saw him on a different occasion with a beer in his truck.

Defense attorney Kristin Scogin unsuccessfully argued for probation, saying that Aguilar had no prior record and was very remorseful about what happened.

Aguilar’s fiancee, Renee Ramirez, urged the judge to grant probation so he could help her at home because she has seizures.

“He made a mistake. He won’t do that again,” the fiancee told the judge.

——– Story by Kelly Wheeler of City News Service