Drunk driver who fatally struck Lyft driver faces sentencing

SAN DIEGO – The drunk motorist who fatally struck a Lyft driver tending to a sick passenger on a freeway in 2016 faces his sentencing Thursday.

Steven Cervantes Quintero, 26, subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the 2016 collision. After two different juries deadlocked in separate trials in April and July on a second-degree murder charge, Quintero will face his sentencing Thursday.

Quintero has a prior DUI conviction from November 2015.

A passenger in the Lyft car, Kelly Hoffman, testified at a hearing in 2017 that she and two friends were dropped off about 11 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2016, and had drinks at a couple of downtown San Diego nightclubs before stopping for some gelato.

As they headed home about 1 a.m. in the Lyft car driven by 41-year-old Henry O. Reyes of Escondido, passenger Sarah Smith got sick and Reyes pulled onto the shoulder of eastbound state Route 94 near 28th Street to get her out of the car and give her some water, Hoffman testified.

Minutes later, the Lyft car was hit from behind and Reyes — an aspiring dentist and the father of a 2-year-old child — was killed as he walked around the car to get back in.

Hoffman, who was on the phone in the backseat when the collision occurred, said she “was hit so hard I didn’t know where I was” and suffered a broken bone on the top of her foot, whiplash and a concussion.

Smith, who had cuts to her chin, a neck injury and a bruised spine, said she has no memory of the crash.

According to court testimony, Quintero was entering the freeway at 25th Street when he slammed into the back of Reyes’ Kia.

Quintero walked away from the collision but was arrested nearby a short time later. A female passenger in his car suffered a broken wrist.