February 14, 2017 07:07 PM
The man facing charges for a crash on Christmas Eve of 2015 in Clarkson that turned deadly was sentenced on Tuesday.
Efrain Lopez-Contreras, an illegal alien, was sentenced to 6-18 years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide. Lopez-Contreras was also sentenced to 5-15 years for manslaughter, up to four years for aggravated DWI, and up to seven years for aggravated assault. His sentences will run concurrently, and then he will be deported.
Efrain Lopez-Contreras, an illegal alien, pleaded guilty to driving drunk when he crossed the centerline on Redman Road and hit a vehicle head-on, driven by Clarkson Pastor Tony Bartolucci. Bartolucci and his daughter Giana were trapped in their car when it caught fire. They were pulled out by Good Samaritans. The pastor recovered but his daughter died months later.
In court Tuesday, Tony Bartolucci said he forgives Contreras. He even asked to give him a hug during the sentencing, but the judge said that wasn't allowed.
Bartolucci says forgiveness is part of who he is, but he says the pain of losing his only daughter is still very real.
He says, "She never made it back. I'm still having a very hard time with that."
Contreras apologized to the family in court and said he regretted driving drunk and never meant to hurt anyone.
We asked Bartolucci, who’s also a pastor, how he’s able to forgive. "Because I'm Italian, we cry at Bar Mitzvahs. Seriously, that's the type of person I am.”
During sentencing, the judge pointed to another incident in 2010 when Contreras was deported for driving drunk and resisting arrest. She said Contreras made mistake after mistake, and will now be held accountable.
As for Bartolucci, he says he's found strength in his faith, his family, and his memories of daddy's little girl. "She was 14 and we'd be walking into the thrift store together and she'd grab my hand, she'd walk hand in hand with me. That's the type of girl she was."
On a happier note, Bartolucci says he and his wife are considering adopting, when the grief subsides.
Updated: February 14, 2017 07:07 PM
Created: February 14, 2017 06:16 AM
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