SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A motorist who was allegedly drunk when he hit a Lyft car on state Route 94 and fatally injured the driver, who had been tending to a sick passenger on the freeway shoulder, was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and other charges.
Steven Quintero, who has a prior DUI conviction from November 2015, faces 29 years to life in state prison if convicted in the death of 41-year-old Henry O. Reyes of Escondido, said Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright.
A passenger in the Lyft car, Kelly Hoffman, testified during a two-day preliminary hearing that she and two friends were dropped off about 11 p.m. on Sept. 30 and had drinks at a couple of downtown San Diego nightclubs before stopping for some gelato.
As they headed home about 1 a.m. in the Lyft car driven by Reyes, Sarah Smith got sick and the driver pulled onto the shoulder of the eastbound freeway near 28th Street to get her out of the car and give her some water, Hoffman testified.
Minutes later, the Lyft car was hit from behind and Reyes - an aspiring dentist and the father of a 2-year-old child - was killed as he walked around the car to get back in.
Hoffman, who was on the phone in the backseat when the collision occurred, said she "was hit so hard I didn't know where I was" and suffered a broken bone of the top of her foot, whiplash of the neck and a concussion.
Smith, who had cuts to her chin, a neck injury and a bruised spine, said she has no memory of the crash.
According to court testimony, Quintero was entering the freeway at 25th Street when he slammed into the back of Reyes' Kia.
Quintero, 24, walked away from the collision but was arrested nearby a short time later, authorities said.
His blood-alcohol content was between .14 and .16 percent at the time of the accident, according to court testimony.
After his DUI conviction in 2015, Quintero completed a majority of required drunk driving classes and was on notice about the dangers of drinking and driving, Bright said.
Judge Joan Weber ruled that enough evidence was presented for Quintero to stand trial on all charges, including DUI and driving on a suspended license.
A Superior Court arraignment was set for May 10.