A man accused of driving drunk without a license when he hit and killed a Lyft driver who had stopped to help his sick passengers could face nearly 30 years in prison if convicted.
Steven Quintero faces multiple charges related to the fatal Saturday crash, including second degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or greater, driving on a suspended license and leaving the scene of a crime, according to San Diego Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright.
Bright also revealed Quintero was charged with a prior DUI in Nov. 2015.
The crash happened when Lyft driver Henry O. Reyes pulled over on the side of State Route 94 on Saturday to help one of the passengers in his car, who had gotten sick. Quintero allegedly slammed into the back of Reyes' car, lost control and landed in an embankment.
Reyes was pronounced dead at the scene. The 41-year old was a father of a two-year old; he died on his birthday.
All three passengers were injured in the crash, Bright said, one seriously.
CHP officers said Quintero ran away, but was later arrested, charged and booked into prison.
Bright said that thanks to a state grant, the DA's office has been able to get involved sooner and act more aggressively.
"All with the hopes of putting together these cases in a way that we make murder charges on these cases because in this day and age, its completely changed from years ago," Bright said.
She says the office now reviews every case for possible murder charges, then, if they cannot meet the burden of proof, they work their way down.
Reyes' death is the fifth new DUI fatality case in five weeks, Bright said. While DUI cases are generally on the decline, she said, DUI fatality cases are on the rise - and now, prosecutors are seeing more multi-substance abuse emerging.
Many people charged with DUI have such a high blood-alcohol level that Bright believes many people are unaware of how much alcohol they are consuming.
Reyes' family declined to talk with NBC 7 at the arraignment Wednesday. Bright said she spoke with the family prior.
"It's tough," she said. "It's really tough for them."
Reyes' family previously told NBC 7 that had recently graduated from Dental School and had been driving for Lyft for extra income to help pay for another two year apprenticeship and provide support his two-year old son.
Quintero's bail was set at $3 million. He will appear in court next week for a status hearing.