What to Know
- Three Las Vegas teens were killed in the 2018 crash.
- Police said the driver refused a ride from friends the night of the crash.
- All three bodies had to be identified through dental records.
The families of three teenagers from Las Vegas who were on spring break in Huntington Beach when they were killed by a drunken driver two years ago faced the woman responsible in court as she was sentenced to more than five decades to life in prison Thursday.
Bani Duarte, 29, of San Clemente, sat and listened for hours, often in tears as one by one the families of those she killed called her a monster, called her selfish and told her she ruined entire families.
Renee Mack said her son Dylan was an 18-year old with a dream. He wanted to become a firefighter.
Brooke Hawley was on the cusp of a college scholarship. Her parents said she was a star on the soccer field.
"Everybody talks about wanting to do the right thing. You teach your kids to do the right thing. They do the right thing and they’re dead," her mother, Rhonda Hawley, said.
AJ Rossi’s sister said her brother had a heart of gold, a smile that would light up a room.
"We lost so much more. You stole everything," Allie Rossi said.
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On March 29, 2018, Duarte was a 27-year-old mother, and had already hit a curb. But she refused a ride from friends, police said. Then on Pacific Coast Highway she slammed into a stopped car with four teenagers inside. Only one made it out alive. All three bodies had to be identified through dental records.
"I’m ashamed. I’m remorseful. I wasn’t in the right mind," Duarte said.
The judge sentenced her to 51 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
When she was arrested, the judge said Duarte still had nine to 10 drinks in her system. He called this a tragedy of epic proportions.