It’s been four years since the Liras lost their 19-year-old daughter in a crash involving an intoxicated driver.
“It has broken my heart,” Lisa Lira said. “My very sweet, smart, little girl should be graduating and she’s gone.”
While the person responsible for her death has been convicted, the Liras are still fighting for justice.
“It's been four years of our struggle, and it's really time for him to go to prison,” Lira said.
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In March 2018, Francisco Alvarez, now 32 years old, ran a red light on the El Norte Parkway in Escondido and slammed into another car.
That other car was going 87 mph, nearly twice the speed limit at the time of the crash. Its driver, 19-year-old Brandon Contreras, and the Liras daughter Ana died at the scene.
Another teen in the car suffered life-threatening injuries. Alvarez was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it was later determined
“I was so crazy with grief,” Lira said. “I had no expectation that that would ever happen. My body feels numb, my body feels numb. I can't imagine that she's passed away.”
Alvarez was arrested two months after the crash, then posted bail and awaited trial out of custody
More than four years later, he was found guilty on Wednesday of gross
vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury, and was sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison, but not go to prison while his appeal his pending.
According to his defense attorney, Kenneth Elliott, Alvarez’s blood was drawn after the crash without a warrant.
“He feels terrible for the families, and he has taken this time that he’s been out on bail to talk to family and friends and coworkers, to talk about the dangers of driving under the influence,” Elliott said.
“I’m not satisfied with his admission of guilt,” Lira said. “He was on drugs and high. He had a mix of alcohol, and both those kids are dead because of his actions. I don't accept that he's trying to be out, that he's trying to live his life.”
In need of closure, the Liras want Alvarez to do his time in prison and serve as an example to others about what could happen if you drive under the influence.
“We were so happy, and it will never be the same,” Lira said.