January 03, 2017 04:27 PM
The man facing charges for the fatal crash on Christmas Eve 2015 on Redman Road has entered a guilty plea.
Efrain Lopez-Contreras, an illegal alien, was charged with driving drunk the night before Christmas in 2015, crossing the centerline and striking a vehicle head-on driven by Clarkson pastor Tony Bartolucci.
Bartolucci and his daughter Giana -- who was a passenger -- were trapped in the vehicle that caught fire. They were pulled out by Good Samaritans. Both were seriously injured.
The pastor was able to recover, but his daughter died months later following a surgery.
Lopez-Contreras was set to begin his trial on Tuesday, but instead entered a guilty plea to aggravated vehicular assault, manslaughter, assault and aggravated driving while intoxicated.
Prosecutors say he will face a minimum of six years to a maximum of 18 years for the aggravated vehicular homicide charge. He will be deported after serving his prison term.
"Our office extends our deepest sympathy to the victims and their family. A simple family tradition of picking up a Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve became a nightmare that should never have occurred," Assistant District Attorney Raymond Benitez said in a press release. "We thank the Bartolucci family and the Monroe County Sheriff’s office for their cooperation throughout the investigation and prosecution."
Lopez-Contreras will be sentenced in February.
Updated: January 03, 2017 04:27 PM
Created: January 03, 2017 04:21 PM
Copyright 2017 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company