A man accused of driving to Mexico to have his damaged vehicle repaired after a hit-and-run crash that killed a mother of eight children was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison.
Junior Rigoberto Lopez, who earlier pleaded guilty, was eligible for parole, but it was not granted. The judge said his actions after the Nov. 1 crash were "outrageous and nearly unforgivable."
"I don't feel like it really mattered because it's not going to bring her back," daughter Jennifer Arellano said of the sentence. "I'm still without my mom and my son is without his grandmother."
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Lopez was driving a 2013 Ford F-150 extended cab pickup late that evening when he crashed into Daniella Palacios, 44, who was riding a bicycle near the intersection of La Palma Avenue and Magnolia Avenue in Anaheim, according to police.
Palacios, described by family members as a loving grandmother, died at a hospital early the next morning. She had eight children between 9 and 28 years old, and she was also a grandmother.
"People do panic, I've been in situations where I've panicked, but you always comes back and you try to fix your mistake, regardless of whether it's a small or large one," said Melanie Sunga, the victim's sister.
Family members arrived to find the victim in the street, surrounded by her bike and other items.
The driver left the scene and drove to Mexico to have the vehicle repaired after it was damaged in the crash, according to Orange County prosecutors. Rigoberto Lopez, 30, picked up the repaired truck on Dec. 11, just about a week before his arrest, prosecutors said.
"The defendant's conduct in the days and weeks and hours following this terrible incident is nothing less than outrageous and as nearly unforgivable as conduct can be in a case like this," said Judge Scott Steiner. "The nefarious way you attempted to evade capture and destroy evidence is indefensible."
During the search for the driver, police released a security camera photo of the white pickup involved in the fatal crash.