Vehicle wreckage
First responders examine the wreckage of the two vehicles on May 7. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A man without a driver’s license who drove drunk and crashed his pickup into a family’s minivan at a Midway-area intersection, killing a young man and his grandmother, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 15 years in state prison.

Edgar Jesus Suarez, 34, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and other charges stemming from the May 7 crash in which his pickup went airborne and landed on top of the victims’ minivan.

Killed in the crash were Ahmed Alrawi, 23, and 81-year-old Suad Alsamarai, both El Cajon residents. Alrawi’s mother and brother were also injured in the wreck.

Police said Suarez was speeding on Sports Arena Boulevard at around 9 p.m. when his truck hit a raised median at Rosecrans Street, then landed atop the victims’ 2015 Toyota Sienna, San Diego Police Department Sgt. Victoria Houseman said. The minivan was stopped at a red light when it was struck, according to Houseman.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Suarez was driving between 70 and 80 mph around the time of the crash and had a 0.16 blood-alcohol-content three hours after the crash. The prosecutor also said Suarez has never had a driver’s license and has a prior conviction for driving without a license.

Alrawi’s brother, Abdullah Alrawi, was behind the wheel of the van when the crash occurred. He told San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein that immediately after the crash, he tried in vain to rouse his brother awake.

“That day was the first day when I called his name, he didn’t answer,” Alrawi said.

Zainab Alazawi, Alrawi’s mother and Alsamarai’s daughter-in-law, said the family moved to California from Ohio to help fulfill her son’s dream of securing a job in the tech industry. She told the judge the family was looking forward to her son’s upcoming graduation from college when he was killed.

Goldstein imposed a 14-year, 8-month prison sentence, which was the maximum possible term allowed. He said the high speed, blood alcohol content and the fact he was driving without a license outweighed other potentially mitigating factors in the case.

City News Service contributed to this article.



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Ellen Bullock