Driver in Deadly Crash Was Good Man: Mom

A memorial will be held for the victims on the same day Venegas will be arraigned

By Artie Ojeda
|  Tuesday, Jan 5, 2010  |  Updated 7:22 AM PDT
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Pregnant Woman, Killed by Alleged Drunk Driver

Artie Ojeda

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Pregnant Woman, Killed by Alleged Drunk Driver

Her family was planning her baby shower. Now they're planning her funeral.
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Juanita Venegas remembers getting the news.

"I wanted to die. I wanted to die. My only son, and then something this tragic to happen," Venegas said.

Her son, Joseph Venegas, is accused of getting behind the wheel drunk early New Year's Day and crashing into a car on the shoulder of Interstate 805 near Home Avenue in Webster.

Elaina Ortiz, 21 and six months pregnant, was sitting inside a Mazda sedan, waiting for roadside assistance for a friend with a flat tire. Just before 10 a.m., Venegas in his Chevy Tahoe SUV veered off the highway and hit the car killing Ortiz and her unborn child. Carol Silva, 20, and Ivan Martinez, 24, were seriously hurt in the crash.

Venegas was treated at the hospital and released into sheriff's custody and arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving.

Three days after the accident, Joseph Venegas' mother wanted to express her profound sorrow to the victim's family.

"I know the anguish they must be going through because as a mother, I am also going through this pain," said Venegas.

Juanita said her 40-year old son is a good man who rarely went out. She said Joseph even asked permission to go out the night before the crash, since he was his parents' caretaker.

Joseph worked at a convalescent hospital for the last several years and lived at home, his mother said.

The Venegas family says they have not spoken to Joseph who is in a medical ward at the county jail but his sister believes Joseph is undoubtedly consumed with regret.

"I could only imagine. Terror, regret, remorse, lots of remorse," said Rosemary Venegas.

 

Frank Ortiz, the husband of Elaina Luquis-Ortiz, said he held no ill-will toward the Venegas family upon hearing the suspect's family statements. However, his words were much stronger for the suspect.

"His actions will make both of our families suffer for a long time," said Ortiz.

A memorial is planned for Elaina Luquis-Ortiz on Wednesday in National City at the Paradise Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church from 5-8 p.m.


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