Sioux Falls, SD
He was on his way home after leaving a New Year's Eve party.
On Tuesday, 21-year-old Oscar Madrigal pleaded guilty to crashing into a van and killing 38-year-old Tanya Sanchez.
Madrigal's blood tests showed he had a 0.204 blood alcohol level after he was arrested for the 10th Street and Sycamore Avenue crash that killed Sanchez. That's more than twice the legal limit. Tuesday’s plea agreement will cap his potential time in prison at 20 years.
Madrigal, who was 20 years old at the time, admits that he was driving home around 1:30 a.m. on New Year's Day following a night of drinking. Sanchez was also on her way home after picking up her husband from work. The mother of six was riding in the passenger seat of the family van when Madrigal says he ran a red flashing stop light at 10th Street and Sycamore Avenue.
Sanchez died from the impact of the crash.
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"He decided to take the plea agreement to spare the family the agony of a trial. He's felt terrible since the day this happened," Madrigal's attorney John Wilka said.
Madrigal pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter and his second DUI on Tuesday. In court, prosecutors said Madrigal was driving 40 miles per hour just before the crash and hit the brakes a half second before striking the van. Madrigal said in court that he doesn't remember any of it.
Madrigal could get a 20-year prison sentence with the plea agreement. Judge Mark Salter could also hang more time over his head by imposing a suspended sentence above and beyond the 20 years.
"The plea agreement was within the framework of what the vehicular homicide charge was and we think it's appropriate under the circumstances," Wilka said.
Wilka says though Madrigal admitted to his crime Tuesday, it is a small gesture in the midst of a terrible tragedy.
"In things like this, there's no solution. It's just a global tragedy. Just a global tragedy all around," Wilka said.
Sanchez's family was not in court Tuesday but is expected to be at the sentencing.
Madrigal's two-hour sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 20.