Inland Empire

‘He's Already Suffering Enough': Woman Who Lost Home in Deadly Sandalwood Fire Says Suspect Should Not Face Jail Time

Antonio Ornelas Velasquez faced a Riverside County judge for his arraignment on charges including two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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A trash truck driver accused of causing the deadly Sandalwood Fire that tore through Villa Calimesa mobile home park near Yucaipa, killing two people and destroying more than 70 structures, faced a judge on Tuesday.

Antonio Ornelas Velasquez, 38, appeared for his arraignment on charges including two counts of involuntary manslaughter. But the arraignment was continued until Oct. 21.

Velasquez's defense attorney refused to comment.

Rosie Castellon's home was destroyed, but she said she doesn't believe the suspect should face jail time.

"He has to live with this the rest of his life," Castellon said. "He's already suffering enough."

She had been living in an RV with her longtime partner Roger. But he died in July from a health condition.

"I feel like I lost everything," Castellon said. "I feel like I don't have anything left. I'm all alone now."


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The son of Lois Arvickson, who died in the fire, said that he wants Velasquez to be prosecuted for the crimes. But he also wants the trash company to face criminal charges as well.

Castellon also agrees that the company should be held criminally responsible.

"The winds were so high and he let them know," she said. "He told his supervisor but his supervisor said there was a fire truck on the way, to go ahead and dump the load."

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