A Santa Rosa man was sentenced Monday to 15 years to life in prison for a drunken-driving crash that killed an Arizona tourist in 2015.
Pablo Salinas-Jacobo, 45, was twice convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and was on probation when he slammed into a car carrying Lori Lynne Ryan, a 53-year-old satellite engineer who was wine tasting with her boyfriend in Healdsburg.
Ryan, a mother of two, went into a coma and later died. Her boyfriend, Donald Kraft, was seriously injured as was the driver of a third car.
Salinas-Jacobo was charged with murder under a premise that previous drunken-driving convictions in 2007 and 2012 made him aware of the inherent risk of drinking and driving.
But jurors in his April trial could not reach unanimous agreement and returned a conviction on the lesser charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Patrick Broderick handed down the maximum punishment, finding Salinas-Jacobo had received chances to treat his alcoholism but never did. After his last conviction, he drove himself to counseling sessions after consuming alcohol on two occasions, the judge said.
“A man of your age who has had this many opportunities to address this challenge ... you are a threat to all of us,” Broderick said.
His comments came after Kraft, one of Ryan’s two adult sons, Ryan’s sister and her best friend implored the judge to impose the life sentence.
They described Ryan as a gifted engineer, athlete and musician who loved traveling to Sonoma County for wine-tasting and cycling events.
“Nearly two years ago my mom left on a vacation she never returned from,” the son, Kevin Balzer said, wiping back tears.
Kraft, who suffered a separated shoulder, said they had all been “stripped of a life.”
“There is not a portion of a day that Lori is not in my thoughts,” Kraft said.
Salinas-Jacobo listened to them with the help of a language interpreter.
He apologized to Ryan’s friends and family members, saying “from the bottom of my heart, I ask for forgiveness.”
Ryan and Kraft were driving their Dodge Charger in front of Merriam Vineyards on Los Amigos Road when they were hit by Salinas-Jacobo, who crossed the double-yellow lines in his Ford Mustang to pass another car.
Evidence showed his blood alcohol level was more than two times the legal limit.
He told officers he drank a glass of bourbon after playing soccer at a Healdsburg park.
The collision happened about four months after Salinas-Jacobo had an ignition interlock device, installed after previous convictions, removed from his car.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ppayne.
Editor’s note: Donald Kraft’s name was incorrect in the original version of the story.