DUI is not being ruled out in the crash Saturday afternoon in southern Sacramento County that killed five Modesto residents and injured a family of four, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.
“We can’t rule it out at this point. We’re waiting until toxicology reports come back,” said Michael Bradley, public information officer for the CHP’s south Sacramento area. There was evidence in driver Annalicia Mona Montoya’s Honda Civic that indicates drugs or alcohol may have been used, Bradley said. He would not elaborate on what was found.
Montoya, a 21-year-old Modestan, was driving on a suspended license, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. She had three suspensions on record, a DMV employee said Wednesday: one from May 2014, stemming from her failure to appear in court on a traffic case, a red-light violation from October 2013; a second in October 2015 related to excessive blood alcohol content; and a third in December, related to a collision.
Montoya also was out on bond in a Stanislaus Superior Court case. She had a pretrial date coming up April 18 on one felony count of willful cruelty to a child, two felony counts of DUI causing injury and one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended or revoked license. Those charges resulted from a Sept. 12 collision in Stanislaus County.
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Montoya also had a separate case pending on one misdemeanor count of petty theft.
You might think that just being arrested would be a wake-up call and a great deterrent, and that being convicted would be an even more powerful deterrent to future criminal conduct. It is for some, but sadly, that is often not the case. Repeat offenders are commonplace.
Birgit Fladager, Stanislaus County district attorney
“Montoya’s bail amount was $25,000 in the felony DUI case and $25,500 in the petty theft case,” Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Tony Colacito told The Modesto Bee in an email Wednesday. “... In the vast majority of our criminal cases, if a defendant pays the bail, they’re subject only to general terms, meaning, make your court dates and don’t leave the state. That was the case here.
“If any defendant has a prior within 10 years of an alleged DUI offense, we allege a prior conviction on the complaint so we can obtain enhanced punishment for their status as a repeat offender. ... That was not alleged in this case.”
Addressing the question of why Montoya’s DUI and child cruelty case was in the pretrial phase, District Attorney Birgit Fladager said some cases resolve quickly because all the necessary evidence has been obtained and the defendant is willing to take responsibility and face the consequences of his or her actions. Gathering of additional evidence by the prosecution or defense can slow a case.
And “although the Constitution provides defendants with a right to a speedy trial, defendants frequently have no interest in exercising that right,” Fladager wrote in an email. “... For example, if defendants are out on bail or released on their own recognizance by a judge, they are able to avoid the consequences of a conviction for as long as they can delay it. In California, victims have a constitutional right to a speedy disposition, too; however, a defendant’s due process rights will prevail over a victim’s.”
Saturday’s collision happened about 5:35 p.m. as Montoya was driving east on Highway 12, about 2 miles from Highway 160 near Rio Vista. She attempted to pass another vehicle, lost control and was broadsided by an oncoming Chevrolet Silverado pickup, Bradley said.
Montoya died at the scene along with three of her passengers: her 3-year-old daughter, Adelayanna Ortiz; Aaliyah Buenrostro, 17; and Denise Garcia, 19. All lived in Modesto. Garcia’s son, 2-year-old Ramiro Garcia, died later at a hospital.
The occupants of the Silverado, a couple with two older children, were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Aaliyah Buenrostro’s father, Rigo Buenrostro, told The Bee on Wednesday that he was not aware of Montoya’s license suspension or pending court cases. “I’m always the last one to know about these things. ... It was really a shock,” he said. “I know she (Montoya) occasionally drank with my daughter, I would see it on social media, pictures of them drinking and stuff. But my daughter would hide stuff like that from me.”
Authorities have not released Aaliyah’s body because the investigation is continuing, Buenrostro said. “I just want to bring her home.”
The teen’s family held a fundraising dinner Tuesday to help cover funeral expenses, he said, and is having a car wash Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot of the Kmart store in Ceres. It likely will begin at 10 or 11 each morning and continue into the afternoon.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327