Not guilty plea from driver accused of causing freeway pileup th - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Not guilty plea from driver accused of causing freeway pileup that killed Las Vegas couple

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A motorist who allegedly consumed 17 beers before triggering a Mountain View-area freeway pileup that killed a Las Vegas couple and injured two other people pleaded not guilty Thursday to four felony charges, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Pedro Antonio Sainz, 28, was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Deputy District Attorney Kristen Spieler -- calling Sainz an "absolute menace " -- said the defendant drank the 17 beers at a bar before getting behind the wheel and losing control of his car, which collided with a 2005 Toyota Matrix on northbound Interstate 805 around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Matrix -- with 66-year-old Ramiro Aguilar, his 47-year-old wife Bertha and 13-year-old son inside -- overturned and rolled several times before coming to rest in the middle of the freeway, just south of Imperial Avenue.

Sainz allegedly pulled over to the right shoulder, got out and ran off, while other motorists stopped to aid the occupants of the Matrix.

Moments after the Aguilars' son was extricated from the crumpled hatchback, a 1997 Toyota Tacoma truck plowed into it, ejecting Ramiro Aguilar, who had been driving, onto the roadway, along with his wife. A motorcyclist then crashed his northbound 2007 Yamaha YZF while trying to avoid the overturned car.

Bertha Aguilar died at the scene. Medics took her husband to Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he died about eight hours later. Their son was not injured.

The driver of the pickup, 27-year-old Fernando Guzman of San Diego, was transported to a hospital for treatment of moderate injuries. The motorcyclist, Robert Landa, 32, of San Diego, suffered severe injuries, according to CHP Officer Art Athans.

Guzman and all three occupants of the Matrix were wearing seat belts at the time of the crashes.

Spieler said Sainz was arrested Tuesday morning at his San Diego home in connection with the accident and admitted drinking numerous beers before the crash and said he knew he shouldn't have been driving.

In addition to gross vehicular manslaughter, Sainz is charged with felony DUI with injury and felony hit-and-run. He faces 24 years in state prison if convicted.

A readiness conference was set for June 25 and a preliminary hearing for the following day.

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