Los Angeles

Driver Accused in Alhambra Crash Has Prior DUI Convictions

Witnesses say he plowed into a minivan where families had gathered to look at Christmas decorations

A suspected DUI driver accused of crashing his truck into a van and sending it into crowd of pedestrians in Alhambra, east of Los Angeles, Sunday night has a revoked license and several prior convictions including DUI and hit-and-run, according to court records.

Police said Ismael Soto, 28, hurt 13 people when he plowed into a minivan where families had gathered to look at Christmas decorations at Fremont Avenue and Poplar Boulevard Sunday night.

Eleven people went to the hospital, including a 27-year-old woman who remained in the intensive care unit for a head injury Monday morning, police said.

The youngest victim is 7 years old, police said.

Court records show Soto was convicted in February 2013 of driving with a suspended license and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, and November 2013 for driving under the influence and hit-and-run, according to LA Superior Court records.

Soto was also convicted in 2013 of driving with a suspended license. A judge then revoked his license in November 2013 after he allegedly refused a chemical test, records showed.

"He does not have a current driver's license," Alhambra Police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. "He shouldn't have been behind the wheel of that car."

Soto was on probation for one of the prior DUI conviction's at the time of Sunday's crash, Johnson said.

After the Sunday night crash, witnesses said a red pickup truck driving on Fremont Avenue suddenly made a left turn and T-boned a black minivan, sending the minivan spinning into a crowd of spectators.


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"All of a sudden I heard tires screeching, but not brakes," said David Villalobos, a homeowner who saw the crash. "Luckily no one got killed."

The truck pushed one van over a "huge curb," and sent another van into pedestrians, pinning them against a fence and a holiday display, police said.

Soto is behind bars on $130,000 bail for suspicion of felony DUI and is due in court Wednesday, police said.

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