Family members of two people killed in a wrong-way collision on Interstate 15 say many lives have been changed because of a young man's decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while he was under the influence of alcohol.
“This needs to stop,” Claudia De La Torre said Monday. “One life taken is one life too many.”
De La Torre was speaking outside a San Diego courtroom downtown after the judge sentenced Shane McDonald roughly 10 years in prison.
McDonald was driving a black Audi A4 in the wrong direction in the express lanes along Interstate 15 on May 2, 2015 when he collided head-on with a vehicle carrying five people.
Rodolfo De La Torre, 55, of Escondido, was behind the wheel of the Honda Civic. He and Teresa Esparza Hernandez, 84, of Escondido died in the crash.
Torre changed lanes to avoid the collision but McDonald did the same maneuver and the vehicles collided head-on, CHP officers said.
The family was driving to the Tijuana airport to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Torre's wife and two children were in the back seat of the Civic. All suffered head trauma. Two suffered broken necks and severe abdomenal injuries from the seatbelt.
CHP officials said McDonald had admitted to being under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.
In court, McDonald apologized to the victims' families.
"Knowing that I put innocent people through something no one should ever experience fills be with sadness every single day," McDonald said.
He was sentenced to 13 years 8 months in prison with eligibility for parole after 85 percent of the sentence is served.
De la Torre's sister Marcela Robles said the collision and the court case have been beyond challenging for the family.
“This has been a very long, emotional year for the family. Today we’re able to move forward,” Robles said outside court.
“We’ve had so much support,” Robles said. “That’s what has gotten us through it.”
The sisters said they received support from the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) immediately after the crash.