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California

Clerk sold alcohol to 20-year-old driver before fatal DUI crash, police say

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Amy Garcia of Long Beach places a bouquet of flowers at a memorial near where a mother, father and 3-year-old boy were struck while trick-or-treating on Halloween.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A liquor store clerk was arrested this week on suspicion of selling alcohol to an underage driver accused in a DUI crash in Long Beach that killed a family of three.

Police say Amor Potestades Amacio, 56, of Norwalk was working at the Green Diamond Liquor store in the 5300 block of Long Beach Boulevard on Oct. 31 when 20-year-old Carlo Navarro came into the store. She sold alcohol to Navarro knowing he was not the legal drinking age, prosecutors say.

Amacio was arrested Tuesday and charged with seven misdemeanors, including four counts of selling alcohol to a person under 21, according to the Long Beach Police Department and the city prosecutor’s office.

Authorities say the illegal alcohol sale played a role in a fatal crash later that Halloween night involving a mother and father who were trick-or-treating with their 3-year-old son.

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A 2002 Toyota Sequoia traveling south on Country Club Drive near Los Cerritos Park failed to make a turn, drove onto the sidewalk and struck the family shortly before 10 p.m., Long Beach police said.

Joseph Awaida, 30, died at the hospital immediately after the crash. His wife, 32-year-old Raihan Awaida, and their son, Omar, died in the hospital in the following days.

Police said the driver of the vehicle, identified later as Navarro, was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter. Charges against him were upgraded after the deaths of the mother and child. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held without bail.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control plans to seek disciplinary action against Green Diamond Liquor.

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“The sale of alcohol to minors will not be tolerated in the city of Long Beach and the LBPD will continue to investigate and work with our regional and state partners to continue deterring underage drinking,” the Long Beach Police Department said in a news release.

Amacio was released from jail Wednesday after posting $100,000 bond, according to inmate records and Long Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer De Prez.


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