20-year-old gets prison time for hit-and-run that killed his passenger

SAN DIEGO -- A 20-year-old hit-and-run driver who was behind the wheel of a sedan that rear-ended a car at high speed in Mission Valley before slamming into several trees -- killing one of his three passengers -- was sentenced Friday to seven years in state prison.

Sajjad Ismael pleaded guilty last month to felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run with death or permanent serious injury and agreed to the stipulated sentence.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the May 17 crash happened on westbound Interstate 8 about 1:30 p.m. when a speeding 2001 Toyota Avalon driven by Ismael slammed into the rear of a 2017 Toyota Prius near Waring Road.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Shim said Ismael reached speeds of 100 mph as he and his companions were en route to a beach outing.

Following the impact, the Avalon veered into a center median, struck several trees and then careened back onto the freeway, where it skidded to a halt, CHP public affairs Officer Jake Sanchez said.

At that point, Ismael got out of the crumpled vehicle and ran away, leaving behind his three passengers. One of them, 18-year-old Isaac Garcia of El Cajon, died at the scene. Paramedics took one of the other two young men to Scripps Mercy Hospital with severe trauma. The third was treated for minor injuries at the scene.

The driver of the Prius, a 38-year-old woman, was unhurt, Sanchez said.

About 15 minutes after the crash, officers found Ismael in the area of Mission Gorge Road in Grantville and took him into custody.

At the time of the collision, the defendant was wanted on three warrants involving charges of DUI and driving without a valid license, authorities said.

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