Jose Luis Gomez Nava, 22, was sentenced to a year in jail and five years of probation after killing a friend and injuring two others while driving under the influence of laughing gas in Santa Ana, CA in 2010. The five years of probation was awarded to him by Superior Court Judge Gerald Johnson after he pleaded guilty to the gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter charges that killed one and put at risk the lives of many others.
The Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida recommended to the judge that he be severely charged because his actions were very dangerous and risky, not only to other people but also to himself; the DA feels as though one year is not long enough for him to be behind bars. Nava inhaled nitrous oxide while he was in the process of driving with passengers and was driving over 80mph in a 45mph zone.
The reports share that when he inhaled the gas at these speeds it caused him to drop his head and then he released his hands from the wheel. Nava lost control of the car and then it drove over the median on the highway and the moment the car crashed into a tree it was engulfed in flames. The community was very shaken up by this event, knowing that while many die because of drunk driving incidents, it is not frequent that it is because of laughing gas being inhaled.
The judge does not agree with the DA’s argument because Nava himself was also extremely injured in the accident, and is currently in a wheelchair with severe brain injuries as well as severe burn wounds from the crash. The judge believes that Nava will never have the chance to drive again, and that may be punishment enough for this young man’s crimes.
A 15 year old passenger, Steve Gomez, was killed immediately as the front seat passenger. The collision with the tree caused the engine of the car to be slammed into the passenger seat where Gomez was, reports believed he died immediately. The other two passengers had a better outcome from this tragic event. One was thrown out of the vehicle and then taken to the emergency room for treatment, and the other was able to climb his way out of the burning car before receiving any fatal injuries.
As a young man for Nava to know that his mistake took the life of one of his friends is a lot to deal with, and will be punishment to himself for the rest of his life. Even in the event that a person makes one bad decision, they still deserve the right to fight for lesser charges. This young man will forever remember the accident because of his own injuries, and perhaps allowing him less time in jail will give him the chance to change his life around.
The penalties if convicted to the fullest extent of the law for a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge can be very severe. Depending on the specific situation, a person may be sentenced to 1 year in jail all the way up to 10 years in prison if the charge included gross negligence. If a person is accused of a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge alone, they could be looking at up to 4 years in a state prison for their crime. If you or someone you know is in need of an experienced DUI attorney, contact The Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry today we want to fight for your rights in this difficult time!