A man has been convicted in a chain-reaction crash that killed a 25-year-old mother and seriously injured her infant son and five others on the 5 Freeway in Irvine three years ago, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Jurors found 25-year-old Irving Abel Aguilar-Calixto of Las Vegas guilty on second-degree murder and driving under the influence charges, as well as multiple felony enhancements of inflicting great bodily injury, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
The pile-up occurred in the overnight hours of Aug. 23, 2018, after prosecutors say the defendant engaged in a “heavy night drinking” with friends at a rented property in Anaheim before he decided to drive home to Nevada.
Irving Abel Aguilar-Calixto was going more than 100 mph on the 5 Freeway in his Dodge Challenger when he crashed into a Toyota Prius near Lake Forest Drive just before 1:24 a.m., a DA’s news release stated.
The Challenger became disabled in the the carpool and No. 1 lanes on the southbound freeway, while the Prius moved out of traffic and to the right shoulder.
Meanwhile, a tow truck driver responded to the scene and tried to warn other drivers away from the wrecked Prius, which continued to block lanes.
But 10 minutes after the first collision, a Dodge van slammed into the center divider while trying to avoid the Challenger, and that vehicle partially blocked the HOV lane, authorities.
Within the next few minutes, six more vehicles crashed and became involved in the growing pile-up.
One of the cars was driven by 25-year-old Maria Osuna, whose 6-month-old son was strapped into his car seat in the back seat.
She removed her seatbelt to check on her baby, and as she tended to his injuries, another vehicle slammed into the car, killing the mother of three, according to authorities.
“That young mother did what any mother would do – rush to care for her injured child – and it cost that mother her life,” DA Todd Spitzer said in the release. “That little boy will grow up without having a single memory of his mother, but he will always know that her last act on this earth was to protect him at all costs.”
The infant’s neck and skull were fractured in the collision, prosecutors said. Four others also suffered serious injuries, suffering a range of injuries including a fractured vertebra, a concussion and a broken ankle.
In total, 10 cars were involved in the incident, which snarled traffic on the roadway for hours, California Highway Patrol officials said at the time.
Aguilar-Calixto’s blood alcohol level was measured after the deadly wreck and found to be more than twice the legal limit, according to the DA’s office.
He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years to life plus 10 years in state prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 17.
“The lives destroyed by the selfish actions of one driver to get behind the wheel drunk is unconscionable,” Spitzer said. “While we cannot bring that young woman back, we will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is done and that the individual responsible for setting off this tragic chain of events is held accountable for his actions.”