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DUI suspect who crashed into a La Mesa building killing a man pleads not guilty

Braden Jockmyhn, 41, was killed by a suspected DUI driver doing social work for elderly patients. His co-workers are remembering a man who they call a gentle soul.

EL CAJON, Calif. — The DUI suspect accused of plowing his SUV into a building in La Mesa and killing a man inside, faced a judge on Friday. Daniel J. Corona, 61, is accused of driving while high on fentanyl and methamphetamine and crashed is SUV into a building where Braden Jockmyhn, 41, was working at Golden Life Adult Day Healthcare.

“All of our hearts literally broke down in disbelief, it doesn't even seem real even until this day,” said Tia Banks.

She said right before the crash she was planning to drop off some paperwork for Braden.

“Thinking he was there and there at that moment and to know he didn't see it coming,” said Banks.                                                        

Prosecutors say on July, 28, while doing social work in his La Mesa office on University in front of Helix High School, Braden was hit and killed by Corona who tested positive for fentanyl and methamphetamine.

“This is someone who at 5:30 in the afternoon is so impaired that he drove into a building,” said Cally Bright, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego County.

On Friday, Corona pleaded not guilty to felony gross vehicular manslaughter and possession of controlled substances for distribution.

“He admitted that he uses drugs every single day and that he knows it is wrong,” said Bright.

Prosecutors say Corona has a felony history of drugs and that police found fentanyl, meth and a small amount of cocaine in his SUV.

He broke his back in the crash. Corona’s attorney says he is a caretaker for disabled adults and volunteers at Braille Institute in La Jolla for the last 15 years.

“Every Dui crash is 100 percent preventable and the sad part of this is that there is someone working in their office at 5:30 in the afternoon,” said Bright.

The judge denied no bail and lowered Corona’s bond from $1 million down to $250,000 on several conditions if released including that he cannot drive and has to wear a drug testing patch.

Corona's public defender told the court the most he could afford for bail is $25,000, which is enough to post ten percent of his posted bail.

Braden’s mother wrote News 8 through Facebook messenger that read in part, "Braden lost his dreams, his goals, his life. Society lost someone who only wanted to help people and make them laugh. I lost my only son and a piece of my heart."

Most of Braden’s family is on the east coast where he grew up in Connecticut, so his co-workers say they were like family.

“He was the best co-worker; he was an awesome friend and always there for us. Always a joy to be around and a perfectionist,” said Banks.

An online obituary said Braden was an avid weightlifter and was training for competitions.

“He was such a kind gentle soul and definitely did not serve his life cut short like this,” said Banks.

Braden's co-workers say he had an incredible work ethic, was a talented artist and muralist and will always be missed.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego's top stories for September 3, 2021, at 6 p.m.