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DUI Driver Sentenced to Prison for Collision That Killed 1 Person, Injured 4 Others

Sergio Chagolla Chagolla arrested after Santa Maria crash on Memorial Day weekend

Sergio Chagolla Chagolla Click to view larger
Sergio Chagolla Chagolla

A man accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed a Santa Maria woman on Memorial Day weekend was sentenced Wednesday to five years in state prison.

Weeks after taking a plea deal, Sergio Chagolla Chagolla, 29, was sentenced by Judge Gustavo Lavayen in Santa Barbara County Superior Court despite a last-minute request to delay the hearing.

Chagolla was arrested by Santa Maria police after an early-morning crash on May 28 crash involving two vehicles at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Donovan Road. 

Five people were transported to Marian Regional Medical Center, where Lyvelyn Ordas Reyes, 57, of Santa Maria, died due to injuries she received in the collision, police said.

Last month, Chagolla pleaded guilty to one felony count of driving with a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit of .08.

Chagolla, who was represented by Deputy Public Defender Melody Stewart, also admitted special allegations for causing great bodily injury and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .0.15.

Toxicology tests revealed his blood-alcohol content was .28 percent, according to the complaint.

Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore dismissed other charges, including felony driving under the influence causing injury and misdemeanor driving on a suspended or revoked license.

At the start of Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Stewart asked for a delay, telling the judge her client’s wife suffered from kidney failure.

The defendant’s wife had been placed on an emergency kidney transplant list and was awaiting Medi-Cal approval. 

Chagolla wanted to remain incarcerated locally because he believed he would have better telephone contact with his wife, Stewart said.

However, Whitmore objected to any delay, saying the victim’s family didn’t attend the hearing Wednesday but still wanted the case resolved. 

The judge denied the request to postpone sentencing, saying there were too many uncertainties.

He also questioned why the driver faced a drunken driving charge with allegations of great bodily injury instead of manslaughter.

“There was a tragic loss of life in this case,” he said, adding that he assumed there were no allegations of gross negligence by Chagolla.

The charges filed against Chagolla along with the special allegation for great bodily injury meant the defendant faced a greater sentence than he would have if a manslaughter charge had been filed, Whitmore confirmed. 

Chagolla is expected to serve 85 percent of the sentenced time in prison, which would be more than four years of the 5-year sentence.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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