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Drunk Driver Who Hurt 3 Gets 3-Year Prison Term

Times Staff Writer

A North Hollywood man who drove drunk and hit three pedestrians, severely injuring two of them, was sentenced to 3 years in prison Wednesday.

Carlos Gustavo Quintanilla, 30, pleaded no contest last month to felony drunk driving in the Dec. 1 crash. After hitting the three men, Quintanilla fled, leaving his two young children behind, authorities said.

One of the three victims had a foot amputated after the crash, and another is in danger of losing the lower part of both legs, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Lloyd M. Nash.

“Without a doubt, it’s one of the worst driving-under-the-influence injury cases that I have seen,” Nash said. “It’s not the same as somebody being killed, but it’s a bad case.”

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A blood sample taken from Quintanilla half an hour after the accident showed his blood-alcohol level at 0.29%, nearly three times the state’s 0.10% legal standard for drunkenness, Nash said.

No Prior Convictions

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Alan B. Haber said he sentenced Quintanilla to 3 years--1 year less than the maximum--because Quintanilla had no prior drunk-driving convictions and entered his plea shortly after the incident.

Quintanilla’s pickup, which was traveling east on Vanowen Street in Van Nuys, struck at least two parked cars and then jumped a curb, pinning three men against a concrete wall, Nash said. Quintanilla’s two young sons were passengers in the truck.

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Herman Sanchez, 21, of Pacoima lost his right foot in the accident. Jose Galvez, 27, of Sherman Oaks suffered two broken legs and is in danger of losing the lower parts of each, Nash said. Sergio Ramirez, 18, of Van Nuys is recovering from two broken legs, Nash said.

Quintanilla and his 4-year-old son were not hurt, but his 7-year-old son bruised his head, Nash said.

Held for Police

Quintanilla, who left his children in the pickup, fled on foot, but two men who had seen the accident from a nearby apartment building caught him about two blocks away and held him for police, Nash said.

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Quintanilla said he had been drinking at his home and at a friend’s house before the crash, according to a Los Angeles County probation officer’s report.

“I guess I fell asleep at the wheel,” Quintanilla was quoted as saying. “I feel bad about this. I certainly did not intend to hurt anyone.”

In exchange for Quintanilla’s no-contest plea, prosecutors agreed to drop two other felony charges of drunk driving and hit-and-run driving, both related to the crash. If he is a model prisoner, Quintanilla will be eligible for parole in 18 months, Nash said.


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