Driver sentenced in fiery crash that killed Santa Rosa teenager
A defendant was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for leaving the scene of a fiery crash that killed his passenger, a 16-year-old girl, along Highway 101 in Santa Rosa.
Jhovanne Velazquez, 28, stood silently in Sonoma County Superior Court as Judge Mark Urioste sentenced him for the July 24, 2021, crash that killed Yaquelin Garcia Magdaleno.
He had pleaded no contest in October 2021 to one count each of hit-and-run causing injury or death, vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and driving without a license.
The hit-and-run count carried a sentence of four years, which Velazquez will serve concurrently with the other sentences that included less prison time.
Velazquez never spoke during Friday’s hearing and listened silently as the victim’s mother, Sandra Magdaleno, read a statement chastising him for what he’d done.
Accompanied by three other loved ones, Sandra Magdaleno read her statement in Spanish before it was repeated in English. “My daughter did not deserve to die this way,” she said.
Investigators say Velazquez and Yaquelin Magdaleno were returning from a party July 24 in Napa when at about 3 a.m. he crashed their Toyota Camry along Highway 101 near Yolanda Avenue.
The car went down an embankment and through a ditch before hitting a chain link fence and two trees. It landed upside down near a shopping center parking lot between the highway and Santa Rosa Avenue.
The victim was in the front passenger seat when authorities discovered the car engulfed in flames. She was burned beyond recognition and pronounced dead at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Velazquez wasn’t seen until six hours after the crash when he arrived on Apache Street, where he shared a home with Yaquelin Magdaleno and her mother.
He had visible injuries that he blamed on an attack involving unspecified individuals at an unspecified location, a California Highway Patrol officer wrote in a search warrant.
Velazquez disappeared when deputies with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office arrived to inform Magdaleno about her daughter’s death. Investigators began looking for him after she explained he and her daughter were supposed to be together at the time of the crash.
He was arrested July 28 at his mother’s home in Sonoma.
The exact nature of the crash remains unknown, but Emily Malfatti, a prosecutor with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, stressed that Velazquez tried to protect himself in the aftermath.
Investigators said they found Velazquez after contacting his mother, who explained she had picked him up and they were together at her Sonoma home.
“The only reason he called his mother was to save himself. He never thought about Yaquelin,” Malfatti told Urioste during Friday’s hearing.
Yaquelin Magdaleno was described as a loving daughter who supported her mother.
“We will never be able to be happy without her,” Sandra Magdaleno said in her statement.
You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at email@example.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi