Driver Accused of Fatally Hitting U.S. Postal Worker in Commerce Is Charged

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A man accused of fatally hitting a postal worker who was killed while out delivering mail in Commerce last December is set to be arraigned on Friday, prosecutors said.

Joel Perales is seen with his wife in an undated photo provided by the family.
Joel Perales is seen with his wife in an undated photo provided by the family.

Ismael Eduardo Sotelo, 20, has been charged with a count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, according to a news release from the Los Angeles county District Attorney’s Office.

An arrest warrant was filed in the case on April 5, the release stated.

Sotelo was allegedly speeding when he slammed into 58-year-old Joel Perales in the 2100 block of South Atlantic Boulevard on Dec. 3, 2018, according to prosecutors. Perales was unloading mail and packages from the back of his U.S. Postal Service truck at the time.

The force of the impact caused Sotelo’s white coupe to become lodged underneath the postal truck, which was pushed sideways into a parked semi, video from the scene showed.

Perales became pinned against the large container truck, according to the victim’s nephew.

He was later pronounced dead.

Perales was a 30-year employee of the Postal Service, relatives told KTLA. He left behind a wife, five children and nine grandchildren.

Prosecutors have recommended Sotelo’s bail be set at $50,000.

The defendant could be sentenced to up to six years in prison if convicted.

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