Bani Duarte San Clemente, California woman sentenced to 51 years jail in Huntington Beach DUI crash. Mom of four nearly four times over BAC level seeks victim’s parents forgiveness.
A drunken driver sentenced to more than five decades prison following a drunken crash that killed three Las Vegas teens, which a judge described as a ‘tragedy of epic proportions’ earlier this week, sought the families of her three teen victims to forgive her.
Bani Duarte a San Clemente mother of four reportedly had at least nine drinks in her system and a blood-alcohol level of .28 (with 0.08% as legal limit) around the time her car rear-ended a vehicle occupied by 18-year-old Dylan Mack and 17-year-olds Brooke Hawley and Albert Rossi Jr. in Huntington Beach, California, in March 2018.
Duarte at the time was traveling nearly 80mph, with the ensuing collision pushing the Las Vegas teens’ car through an intersection and into a pole, where it then caught fire, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
‘I understand you hate me, wish I was dead,’ Duarte said to their families Thursday during her sentencing hearing, where she was given a term of 51 years to life after being found guilty of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury.
‘….because one irresponsible person decided they were more important than anybody else’
The woman’s sentencing followed Duarte being found guilty Oct. 1 of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of driving under the influence causing great bodily injury.
‘You want me to suffer. I just want to say that I’m truly sorry and maybe one day you will forgive me,’ she added. ‘What I’m saying is coming from my heart.’
Responding to Duarte’s overtures, Aaron Hawley, Brooke’s father, told the courtroom that the trial ‘was not about the defendant.’
‘It’s about three young adults doing nothing wrong and paid the ultimate price because one irresponsible person decided they were more important than anybody else on the face of the Earth,’ the father said.
Not Duarte’s first DUI run in:
At the time of the crash, Duarte never braked before the collision. Only one teen in the vehicle that was struck managed to survive – 17-year-old Alexis Vargas, who suffered burns and a concussion.
‘To sum this up in one line, this is a tragedy of epic proportions,’ Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary Paer said during Duarte’s sentencing Thursday. ‘The victims’ families are suffering. The defendant’s family is suffering. There are no words to adequately summarize this horrific event.’
Albert Rossi Sr. described his son’s death was worse than the horrors of war.
‘I am a Marine Vietnam combat veteran who fought for this country,’ he told the judge Thursday. ‘Vietnam was a living hell, but compared to this, it was a walk in the park.’
Just before handing down the sentence, Justic Paer pointed out that it was not Duarte’s first run-in with the law because of drunk driving. She had one prior DUI arrest that did not lead to a conviction.