A man who drunkenly crashed an SUV into another vehicle on the San Diego (405) Freeway in Torrance, causing the other vehicle to fatally strike two construction workers, was sentenced today to 34 years to life in prison.
Yocio Jonathan Gomez, 25, of Wilmington, was convicted April 25 of two counts each of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and single counts of DUI causing injury and DUI causing injury with two or more priors.
The 2012 crash resulted in the deaths of Ramon Lopez, 56, of Chino Hills, and Ricardo Zamora, 58, of Winchester, whose families were in court for the sentencing.
Outside court, Zamora's brother, Pete, said he felt the maximum sentence handed out by Superior Court Judge Steven Van Sicklen was fair.
"He was very respectful for both families and he saw the hurt we were going through and he gave us some kind of justice," Pete Zamora said.
Rene Roy, Zamora's daughter, said she felt the defendant has not shown remorse.
"It wasn't his first or his second DUI offense. It's scary to know what if he were let out, what more he could have done," Roy said outside court.
Gomez had two prior DUI convictions from July 2008 and April 2009, according to the criminal complaint.
Maureen Lopez, Lopez's daughter, said she didn't need any remorse from Gomez.
"I don't feel any anger. I just know that I needed to keep my family strong and that's what mattered," Lopez said.
Gomez was driving a Ford Explorer at roughly 90 mph through a construction zone around 3:30 a.m. July 22, 2012, when he rear-ended another SUV, prosecutors said. The other SUV spun out of control and struck Lopez and Zamora, who were employed by a contracting firm working on the 405 in Torrance under Caltrans supervision.
Both men died. A third worker, Angel Mendoza, was injured. During a preliminary hearing last year, Mendoza testified that he felt the impact of being struck, and that he wound up "covered in blood" that was not his own.
According to prosecutors, Gomez had a blood-alcohol content of 0.21 -- nearly three times the legal limit. He had been at a friend's party, where other partygoers and Gomez's mother pleaded with him not to drive.
"The people at that party who were your friends begged you, pleaded with you not to get in the car, not to drive. But you ignored them," Sicklen said.
--City News Service