SAN DIEGO -- A 24-year-old man suspected of crashing into two joggers, killing one of them, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges related to drunk driving.
Prosecutors said the couple was on their nightly jog Friday on South Melrose Drive in Vista when they were hit by Abraham Juarez Perea. Nang Lee Vang, a father of five, died at the scene. His wife Molly was taken to a hospital, where she is fighting for her life.
Perea, who is engaged and has a 7-month-old child, faces more than 11 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors would not reveal Perea's blood alcohol level as the case is still under investigation but said evidence at the crash also indicated Perea was driving over the speed limit.
"They're still grieving at this time but they are processing this. As you might imagine, losing a father and nearly losing a mother is tragic," said Deputy District Attorney Bob Bruce.
Prosecutors said so far this year, there have been nine fatal drunk driving crashes in San Diego County, five of them in May.
"The message just isn't getting out. We're killing far too many people whether it's under the influence of alcohol, drugs, prescription medications. Too many people are dying in San Diego as a result of conduct that's entirely preventable, entirely foreseeable," Bruce said.
"He’s incredibly remorseful and feels horrible that this incident involves somebody who lost their life," said Joni Eisenstein, criminal defense attorney.