San Diego

Ex-Navy Sailor Accused in Deadly Coronado Bridge Crash Files Lawsuit Against City, State

Richard Sepolio is accused of driving under the influence and texting on the northbound I-5 onramp when his truck struck the guardrail and fell 60 feet onto a crowd gathered at Chicano Park, killing four.

A man whose truck veered off the Coronado Bay Bridge and crashed onto a crowd gathered in the park below, killing four, says California’s transportation department and the city of San Diego should be held responsible for the crash.

Richard Sepolio, 25, has filed a lawsuit that alleges the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the City of San Diego were negligent and careless in events leading up to the crash on Oct. 15, 2016.

The lawsuit also asks Caltrans and the city to repay any costs Sepolio incurs through the legal process.

Sepolio, who was an active duty Navy sailor at the time, is accused of driving under the influence on the northbound Interstate 5 onramp on that day in 2016. Prosecutors say Sepolio was also texting when his truck struck the guardrail and fell 60 feet onto a crowd gathered at Chicano Park.

The crash killed four people: Cruz Elias Contreras, 52; AnnaMarie Contreras, 50; Andre Christopher Banks, 49; Francine Denise Jimenez, 46.

Sepolio pleaded not guilty to four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing injury or death.

Sepolio's defense, San Diego attorney Paul Pfingst, known for his work on high-profile cases, has argued that his client was not drunk and was not texting.

The defense attorney also said Sepolio took his cellphone out after he crashed to call for help, but he was not texting prior to that.

If convicted on all counts, he could face a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison.

In the cross-lawsuit, Sepolio says the city and Caltrans should take responsibility for the crash.

A city spokesperson for the city responded saying it is Sepolio who should take responsibility.

“The City does not control or maintain the bridge,” City attorney Chief of Staff Gerry Braun. “Mr. Sepolio was drunk, speeding, and texting when he lost control of his truck and flew off the bridge, killing innocent people. He should take responsibility for his behavior.”

Last week, a judge ruled the city did not do anything to contribute to the crash.

A lawsuit filed by one of the victims in the crash alleged the city allowed a car show to be scheduled for Chicano Park knowing that cars falling from the bridge overhead posed a threat to people below.

The lawsuit continues to move forward with Sepolio and the State of California as defendants.

Caltrans told NBC 7 they do not comment on pending litigation. 

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