A Boyle Heights man has been charged with manslaughter after prosecutors said he was high on nitrous oxide when he slammed into a pair of parked cars, causing a gruesome chain-reaction crash that killed an 11-year-old girl and left several others injured last year.
Jose Louis Perez, 22, will appear in a downtown courtroom Thursday to answer charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Perez was driving along Whittier Boulevard near Marietta Street around 7 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2017, when his vehicle veered into the opposite lane of traffic and slammed into two parked cars, authorities said.
The impact thrust one of the parked cars onto the sidewalk, where it struck Elektra Yepez, 11, and three of her relatives, prosecutors said. The girl died of her injuries, and her mother and two of her aunts were hospitalized but survived their injuries.
Perez was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, and a juvenile passenger was held on suspicion of possessing nitrous oxide. Two other passengers in Perez’s car were not hurt.
It was not clear whether Perez had retained a defense attorney or what happened to his juvenile passenger, who was arrested.
If convicted, Perez faces up to 13 years in prison.
Elektra was one of three children killed in the span of six days in fatal car crashes in Boyle Heights last year. On Nov. 16, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department cruiser that was racing to the scene of a shooting careened onto a sidewalk near Whittier Boulevard and Indiana Street, less than a mile from where Elektra died.
In that collision, two young boys, 7-year-old Jose Luis Hernandez and his 9-year-old brother, Marcos, died at the scene. Four others were seriously injured. The wreck was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, which since has turned its findings over to prosecutors for review, according to Shiara Davila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.