Uncle is Second in Family to Die in Santa Ana Crash

Earlier this month, we reported on an accident involving two alleged DUI drivers that took the life of a 6-year-old boy. Update: The uncle and guardian of the 6-year-old Santa Ana boy who died on Aug. 3 after a car crash – passed away from the injuries that he suffered, according to the county coroner.

D. Wayne Cote, 54, of Santa Ana passed away due to his injuries at Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana on Aug. 4. Cote was driving a BMW with his nephew, I. Sandoval, 6, who was sitting in the front seat, but not in the booster seat that was required by law and in the BMW’s back seat, when the pair were t-boned by a Nissan shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Monday (Aug. 3).

The accident took place on St. Andrew Place near Bristol Street. Cote’s nephew died shortly after the accident at Irvine Medical Center in Orange. The boy’s uncle and legal guardian, Cote, was suspected of driving under the influence of narcotics, and the Nissan’s driver, A. Cruz of Santa Ana, 35, was booked on suspicion of felony DUI, according to Santa Ana Police Spokesman Cp. Anthony Bertagna.

Initially, the crash investigators believed that Cote caused the collision after not yielding the right-of-way, however, after further investigation, they are now trying to determine if Cruz was speeding, said Bertagna, who noted that Cruz had a prior DUI conviction and could be facing murder charges based on what the investigation reveals, OC Weekly reported.

What is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated?

If the investigation determines that Cruz was responsible for the deaths of Cote and his young nephew, he could be facing charges for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, a “wobbler” in California. This means that depending on the facts of the case, it could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Under 191.5 PC, if the impaired driver acted with gross negligence, the case will be prosecuted as a felony, which is punishable by 4 to 10 years in prison. If the driver acted with ordinary negligence under Penal Code 191.5(b), the defendant could spend less than a year in jail or up to 4 years in prison.

Contact an Orange County DUI lawyer from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. Attorney Landry is a member of the National College for DUI Defense and a Board Certified DUI specialist!