A teenage driver who caused a New Year’s Eve 2021 DUI crash in Miami-Dade that killed four people and seriously injured two of his friends was sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison as part of a plea deal Thursday.
Alex Garcia, who was 16 years old when the crash occurred, was charged with four counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of involuntary manslaughter while intoxicated, and two counts of driving under the influence causing serious bodily harm.
Garcia, now 18, appeared in court as an adult and was found guilty on six charges related to drunk driving, but prosecutors dropped the car-murder charges.
The plea agreement Garcia agreed to includes 14 years in prison, followed by two years of house arrest and eight years of probation.
Garcia was driving a Chevy Tahoe when it crashed into a Hyundai Elantra that day, killing all four people inside the Hyundai.
They were identified as Juglija Gelac Barzaga, 21, the driver; Christian Mohip, 22; Andres Zacarias, 21; and Jenser Salazar, 21.
Two other 16-year-olds who were in the Chevrolet were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
At Thursday’s emotional sentencing hearing, families of the victims confronted Garcia to share their pain.
“I would never have thought that on December 31, 2020, I received the last FaceTime call from my brother,” said Ingrid Diaz, Zacarias’ sister. “It hurts me immensely that he is not around.”
Garcia sat silently, watching and listening to the family. He decided not to speak.
“I hope one day you will realize what you did that day, because since that day we have never been the same,” one of the family members told him.
“He deeply repents, and the people who died in this accident were 20-21 years old. They had their whole lives ahead of them, and we don’t forget that,” defense attorney Brian Kirlew said.
Authorities said Tahoe data showed Garcia was traveling at about 111 mph right before the crash at West Flagler, where the posted speed limit is 40 mph.
The report says the Hyundai was turning left when the Tahoe crashed into it, throwing it nearly 300 feet away from the impact site.
Garcia was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana at the time of the crash, authorities said.
Lead Investigator for the Florida Highway Patrol CPL. Christine Gracie also spoke on Thursday about how horrifying the crash scene was.
“Julia’s body was squeezed under the passenger side of the car. Andres suffered multiple bone fractures throughout the left side of his body and both legs. Jenser had glass in his head and on his face on the driver’s side,” Gracie said, showing pictures of the wreckage of the crash. “That’s what you did, you know? That’s what you did, that’s what he did, you don’t deserve the right to call this tragedy an accident.”
Records showed that Garcia had student permission. Garcia’s mother admitted to a soldier investigating the case that she had given her son the keys to her Chevy Tahoe, but said it was only so that he could sit inside and listen to music.
“We were all sentenced to life imprisonment, to life without our loved ones, to life without my brother, to life without a son, to life without an uncle, but you, you are still alone because your sentence of 14 years and everything they added is nothing compared to our sentence,” Diaz said.