A 20-year-old San Diego man who was under the influence and behind the wheel in a fiery crash that killed his two passengers will spend 13 years in prison.
Antony Schoenle changed his plea to guilty three months ago to DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter charges in connection with the crash that killed his two friends.
At his sentencing Friday, Schoenle cried as he read a written statement to the court, apologizing to the families of the victims. He said from the fullness of his heart, he is sorry.
He made the statement after hearing others from the families of victims Lizzy Garcia and Lupe Acosta, both in their early 20s
"My sister was a very loving person. It's been hard on her family, really really tough," said Valentin Acosta, Lupe's brother. "She didn't deserve to die. She didn't deserve to die the way she did."
Lupe's mother, Petronila, spoke tearfully, saying Schoenle should have known better.
"He knew that to take and use a car when you have been using drugs and drinkning, that's not good," she said.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Polly Shamoon said no amount of time in prison is going to bring justice to this case or bring back what everyone wants -- the victims back again. She does not consider this an accident, she said, because it was preventable.
In the early hours of Aug. 22, 2015, Schoenle – driving while intoxicated – slammed his 2000 Dodge Stratus into a curb, drove onto an embankment and struck a large boulder in the 4800 block of Friars Road.
The car then caught on fire, the flames quickly spreading to nearby vegetation off the side of the road.
Firefighters were the first to arrive on scene, thinking they were responding to a brush fire when they discovered the mangled, scorched wreckage.
Schoenle was driving with Garcia, Acosta and Acosta’s puppy.
Schoenle was able to escape from the flaming wreckage, but his passengers and the dog could not get out. The young women and puppy died in the fiery crash, police said.
Schoenle suffered severe burns and was hospitalized until his arraignment and arrest on Aug. 26.
Sitting in a hospital bed at UCSD Medical Center, he was charged with two counts of felony manslaughter, felony DUI and providing false information.
At his arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Steven Schott said Schoenle decided to drive on Aug. 22 after 12 hours of partying the night before that included the use of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
Prosecutors argued that after the crash, Schoenle saved himself with no regard for the lives of his passengers.
“This defendant unbuckled himself and climbed over Miss Garcia, the front passenger, to get out – a woman he referred to in an interview as ‘dead weight,’” Schott said. “Both of these women were burned beyond recognition, actually burned down to the bone in some places.”
No other cars were involved in the deadly DUI collision.
Loved ones said the women killed in the crash were best friends who had attended Oceanside High School and played in the marching band together.