Driver Sentenced To 51 Years To Life In Prison For Killing Three Teens And Injuring One In A DUI Accident

  A Huntington Beach woman has been sentenced to 51 years to life in prison for her role in a DUI crash in 2018 that severely injured one teen and killed three other teens from Las Vegas.

The Los Angeles Times reports that on Thursday, February 27,  Bani Duarte, 29, was given the maximum sentence of 51 years to life in prison.  A jury in an Orange County Superior Court reached the guilty verdict of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing great bodily injury against Duarte on October 12st, 2019.

Court documents indicate that the three Las Vegas, Nevada teenagers were in Huntington Beach on spring break on March 29, 2018 at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia Street when Duarte crashed her Hyundai Sonata into their Toyota Corolla.

The Toyota was stopped at a red light when the fatal crash occurred. The onboard computer in Duarte’s vehicle showed that she had been going 79 miles an hour when she hit the Toyota.

The force of impact from the Hyundai sent the Toyota into a nearby utility pole, causing it to catch fire.  Law enforcement investigators determined that Duarte had a blood alcohol level of 0.3%;  more than three times the legal limit of 0.08%.

Dylan Mack, 18, Brooke Hawley, 17, and A.J. Rossi, 17, all died in the crash, while Alexis Vargas was severely injured.

Duarte’s sentence is to be served consecutively and includes 45 years to life imprisonment with the chance for parole for the three counts of second-degree murder with an additional six years added for the DUI charge that caused Vargas’ severe bodily injuries.

Surviving family members and Duarte made statements to the court about the impact that the crash had made upon their lives. While Duarte expressed remorse at her actions, Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldman informed the court that according to phone calls she made from jail, prior social media posts,  and previous DUI arrests, Duarte was aware of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.

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