Santa Rosa man driving drunk gets 21 years in jail for killing mother, daughter in collision

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A Santa Rosa man was sentenced Wednesday to 21 years to life in prison for causing a 2017 automobile crash that killed a Glen Ellen mother and her 7-year-old daughter.

Jose Manuel Lopez-Perez, 26, of Santa Rosa, received the punishment from Sonoma County Judge Robert LaForge following a conviction for second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

The charges stemmed from a Nov. 14, 2017, crash that killed Estefania Soto, 27, and her daughter, Kaliyah Adkins, 7. Soto was driving Adkins to school at Sassarini Elementary School in Sonoma when Lopez-Perez’s Ford pickup truck crossed a double yellow line on Highway 12 and crashed into the pair.

Soto was killed instantly. Adkins was transported to Children’s Hospital Oakland, where she died three days later.

According to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office, Lopez-Perez had a blood alcohol level of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit, at the time of the crash. Previously, he had been convicted of driving under the influence after he crashed his car on Occidental Road in 2013.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a statement that the judge in Lopez-Perez’s 2013 case told Lopez-Perez, “If you continue to drive under the influence and as a result of your driving someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.”

Lopez-Perez got off work around 11:45 p.m. the night before the 2017 crash and drank beer at a friend’s house, according to Ravitch’s statement.

The next morning, at 5:58 a.m., he tried to buy more alcohol at a Safeway but was denied because California law prohibits alcohol sales between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

He bought more beer after 6 a.m. and returned to the friend’s house, where he drank until around 7:40 a.m., when he left because he had to take his daughter to school.

He drove about a mile before he crashed into Soto’s Nissan Sentra.

After the crash, bystanders pulled Adkins from her pink carseat and performed CPR until first responders arrived. Lopez-Perez’s truck had caught fire as a result of the collision, and others pulled him from the burning truck.

He and Adkins were transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries, and Adkins was later transferred to Children’s Hospital Oakland, where she died.

Ravitch said in her statement the stiff prison sentence the judge gave Lopez-Perez sends a message to the community not to drink and drive. His attorney could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the sentencing.

“No one driving a child to school in the morning should meet the terrible fate this family did. The selfish choice to drink and drive, after being convicted and sent to impaired driver education training, caused the tragic loss of two lives,” she said. “This resolution ensures the longest period of incarceration possible for this repeat drunk driver, and should serve as a warning to anyone who considers similar conduct.”

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com.

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