We like to think that our choices and actions only affect our own lives, but in reality, our decisions can have drastic consequences for the people around us.
When an Oregon man got behind the wheel in October 2017, the only person he was thinking of was himself. However, his irresponsible decision had disastrous effects on an innocent family who crossed paths with him for just a split second…
An Afternoon Drive
On October 8, 2017, 25-year-old Lisette Medrano-Perez from Molalla, Oregon was driving her white Buick Century to Salem, which is about a 45-minute journey, at around 4:30 p.m. That afternoon, Lisette was joined by her 3 children and her niece.
A Normal Day
For Lisette, who worked at an assisted living center in Molalla, it was just a typical day as a parent to her 8-year-old son Ivan Ricardo, 6-year-old son Andrus, 4-year-old daughter Dayanara, and her 2-year-old niece Angelina, who she was acting as a temporary legal guardian for until she was allowed to legally adopt her the following week…
While on their way to Salem, Lisette decided to take Highway 99E, which was 1 of the fastest routes from Molalla. However, when she set off for her destination that afternoon, she had no idea that taking Highway 99E would change her family’s life forever.
A Head-On Collision
During the drive, Lisette turned off Highway 99E like she was supposed to in order to get to Salem. However, when she made the turn, her car was hit head-on by a Land Rover that was dangerously driving on the wrong side of the road…
Lisette didn’t see the Land Rover coming, and by the time she did, it was too late to get out of the way. The small Buick Century was completely crushed and thrown into the street. Tragically, Lisette and the kids didn’t fare much better than the car.
Drivers who witnessed the horrific crash immediately called 911 to report the accident, however, the 25-year-old mother was killed instantly upon impact. By the time first responders arrived at the scene, all 4 of the young kids were also pronounced dead…
The Other Driver
When police approached the Land Rover, which wasn’t crushed as badly as the Buick Century, they found the driver, 27-year-old Favian Garcia, was still alive. He was injured and needed to be taken to the hospital immediately, but police had an idea of what happened when they saw Garcia’s eyes.
Garcia was rushed to the Salem Hospital, where doctors treated his relatively minor injuries considering the severity of the crash. After doctors were finished, the police performed a drug evaluation on him because they could see his eyes were glassy and bloodshot…
The Probable Cause
Police noted on a probable cause statement that Garcia’s speech was slow and slurred, which made them think he was drunk. However, when the officers asked him what happened and why he was driving on the wrong side of the road, Garcia told them that he ‘had a hangover all day.’
More Than A Hangover
However, as the officers suspected, Garcia wasn’t hungover. Blood tests confirmed he was still extremely drunk. According to Garcia’s blood test, his blood alcohol content was 0.318 percent, which is about 4 times the legal limit in Oregon of 0.08 percent…
A Crushing Day Of Work
According to the members of the Oregon State Police who responded to the accident and dealt with Garcia after the crash, it was the hardest day of work they had ever experienced. “It crushes your heart. I mean it just rips out your insides,” said Lt. Bob Charpentier, who has worked as a cop for 20 years. “Those little kids have loved ones that are gonna have to deal with this the rest of (their) lives.”
An Unforgettable Day
“I have young kids at home, so did several of my troopers and emergency responders,” Charpentier said. “One image that I’ll never forget is a pink princess crown, a ‘happy birthday’ crown. I’ll never, ever forget that. Close my eyes and I see it and I’ll never forget that…”
First Responders React
For Charpentier and the other first responders, it made them appreciate their families even more than they already did. “The first thing I did when I got home was I went and hugged my family. Just grateful that I’m fortunate that I get to go home to them when I do. And, you know, this family doesn’t get that opportunity,” Charpentier said.
Fighting For Justice
When the police officers woke up the following morning, they were determined to make sure Lisette and her 4 innocent kids got the justice they deserved for Garcia’s selfish and irresponsible actions. “They’re just driving down the road. They didn’t ask for this but that’s what they were dealt,” Charpentier explained…
1 Day Later…
The morning after the accident, the police went straight to the hospital, arrested Garcia, and charged him with driving under the influence and 5 counts of manslaughter. However, when police booked Garcia in the system, they realized he had a disturbing track record for driving under the influence and alcohol abuse.
A Sickening Track Record
In 2011, Garcia pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. He also was charged with driving under the influence in July 2017 and was charged with 3 counts of interfering with making a police report in May 2017 when he prevented a store clerk from calling 911 3 times after he got angry when she refused to sell him alcohol at 4:55 in the morning…
A Danger To The Public
Once police saw Garcia’s record, which included cases that were still open, he was also charged with reckless driving and driving with a suspended license. When he appeaered in court for his arraignment, Judge Rafael Caso denied him bail since his history of drunk driving proved he would be a danger to the community if released from jail.
The Only Comfort
After the initial arraignment, Garcia was held without bail at the Marion County Correctional Facility. For Lisette’s family, it was a comfort to know that the man responsible for taking her and her children away from them couldn’t do the same to anyone else again…
Justice Is Bittersweet
Even with Garcia behind bars, however, nothing could make up for the fact that Lisette and 4 innocent children tragically had their lives taken from them. “Those were completely innocent children,” said Lt. Boyd. “There are just no words to explain what happened.”
Still In Shock
“Everything’s back to normal here but it’s not for us. You know, it’s not for the family,” Lt. Charpentier said. “It was so surreal. It was like I was in shock,” family friend Maria Segoviano added. “I just couldn’t take it all in, especially all five of them, all in one hit, wiped out. I just couldn’t believe it. They were amazing children. They’re going to be truly missed. It’s amazing how much you can lose in one second. So try to live your life to the fullest.”