January 03, 2017 04:13 PM
A man is accused of driving drunk in a vehicle crash that seriously injured a pastor and his daughter.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says 29-year-old Efrain G Lopez-Contreras is charged with driving while intoxicated and vehicular assault.
Investigators tell News10NBC Lopez-Contreras crossed the center line and struck a SUV head-on Thursday night. The SUV caught fire in the crash and the victims were pulled out by good Samaritans. We're told Lopez-Contreras attempted to leave the scene of the crash.
Deputies say Lopez-Contreras is an illegal alien who was previously deported. We're told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials will be placing a detainer on him. He is being held in Monroe County Jail at this time.
Investigators say the victims in the crash are Tony A. Bartolucci and his daughter Giana. Family members tell News10NBC Bartolucci is a pastor at Clarkson Community Church.
According to deputies, both Bartolucci and his daughter were unconscious as they were pulled from the vehicle. They were transported to Strong Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. Hospital officials say both are in guarded condition Friday evening.
In an emailed statement, Cpl. John Helfer of the sheriff's department said, "Our prayers are with the Bartolucci family during this time."
Friday, we heard from the pastor's family, who is still in shock.
Father Al Bartolucci says, "You read in the paper all the time about this but until it hits you. All we did was cry last night."
Their family is thankful to everyone who saved the Bartoluccis. Last night, when neighbors heard a loud crash and saw the SUV on fire, they immediately ran out to help.
"First, we saw a man in there," Vitaliy Basisti said. "And we had to go to the driver side, pulled him out by his legs. And then there was a girl in the passenger side. And then we tried to pull her out; she was trapped. Her seatbelt was on so I asked for a knife, cut it open. We had to rip the door open and get her out of there as fast as we could."
We went back to the scene Friday morning. Tracy Brugger tells News10NBC she's still thankful her and her neighbor's families were at home on Christmas Eve. The Basistis and Bruggers worked together to help save the victims.
"It took about four people to get the pastor out of the car," says Brugger. "It was definitely a group effort. If we hadn't been there I'm not sure if the outcome would've been the same."
Diana Basisti told News10NBC while everyone was busy getting the victims out of the car, Lopez-Contreras tried to walk away.
Diana Basisti says, "My brother saw him. He was mumbling something and then he started fleeing the scene. He was caught later on."
Nina Porciuncula: "Are you mad at him?"
Al Bartolucci: "No. We love him because Jesus told us to love everyone."
Nina Porciuncula - @whec_nina
Updated: January 03, 2017 04:13 PM
Created: December 25, 2015 11:26 AM
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