A Santa Rosa man who fled the scene of a fatal crash in November of 2017 was sentenced to three years in prison in a Sonoma County Court on Wednesday, June 26th.
The Press Democrat reports that Gregory Hernandez, 57, was convicted last month by a jury for having left the scene of a fatal crash in which Juanita Santana, 36, was killed.
The accident happened on November 15, 2017, when Santana was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 101. The wet roads caused Santana’s Mercedes to hydroplane across the highway and crash into the center median near the Steele Lane onramp. Santana and a passenger exited the vehicle and attempted to get help.
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Hernandez was also traveling southbound on Highway 101 when he encountered the earlier accident involving Santana’s car. Unable to avoid a collision, he hit the stranded Mercedes with his Honda Civic, pushing it into Santana and her passenger. A third vehicle struck the other two crashed vehicles, and Santana was pinned to the ground beneath her vehicle.
The Sonoma County District Attorney in a statement that it was at this point that Hernandez lit a cigarette, went over to where Santana was begging for help, then turned and left the scene.
Some Good Samaritans and first responders were able to get the Mercedes off of Santana. She was transported to an area hospital for treatment. She later died one week later as a result of the injuries she suffered in the crash.
Police apprehended Hernandez approximately a quarter of a mile from the crash scene. He told arresting officers that he was freaked out by the accident because he was driving on a suspended license at the time.
Sonoma County District Court Judge Chris Honigsberg remarked during sentencing that Hernandez’ actions, “ran contrary to basic human decency.”
Court records indicate that Hernandez has been without a driver’s license for several years and has had numerous convictions for driving without a license.