DUI driver in fatal hit-and-run sentenced to 22 years

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Fatal crash on Old Highway 395

VISTA, Calif. — A repeat DUI offender who drove drunk and caused a hit-and-run head-on collision near Pala last summer that killed the other driver was sentenced Friday.

Garrett James Gelrud, 35, will spend 22 years in state prison for the death last August of Juan Corza Gonzalez, a rancher from North County.

In May, Gelrud pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and also admitted that he had two prior convictions for DUI, that he was out on bail on a felony offense at the time of the fatal crash and that he left the scene.

Gelrud also pleaded guilty to hit-and-run causing injury in a separate case stemming from a crash that occurred on July 1, 2015.

Authorities said the 62-year-old Gonzalez was driving on Old Highway 395 near Bonsall at about 5:30 a.m. when Gelrud — driving a Chevrolet Suburban — crossed the double yellow lines just north of Lilac Road and smashed into the victim’s Nissan Versa.

Gelrud fled the scene on foot but was arrested later in the morning.

According to evidence introduced at a preliminary hearing in January, Gelrud’s blood was drawn nearly four hours after the fatal crash and the result was .06 percent for alcohol, positive for marijuana and above a therapeutic dosage of Valium.

Chelsea Carter of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab testified that Gelrud’s blood-alcohol level would have been between .11 and 12 percent at the time of the collision. The legal limit is .08 percent.