A San Bernardino man who killed a 23-year-old woman in a hit-and-run collision on Christmas night in Jurupa Valley was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in state prison.
Jude Joseph Vargas, 30, pleaded guilty last month to gross vehicular manslaughter, with a sentence-enhancing allegation of fleeing the scene of a crime. In exchange for his admissions, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped two related felony counts.
Superior Court Judge David Gunn certified the terms of the plea agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
Vargas killed Hillary Hicks of Ontario on the westbound Pomona (60) Freeway, just west of Mission Boulevard. The victim was struck from behind about 11:30 p.m. on Dec. 25.
CHP Officer Dan Olivas said Hicks was in her 2004 Honda CRV when Vargas plowed into the rear of the compact SUV in his 2008 Toyota Sienna, causing the young woman to lose control of her vehicle.
“The Honda veered to the right, traveled off the right-side edge of the roadway, where it overturned down an embankment and collided with a tree,” Olivas said.
Hicks, who was ejected from the SUV, died at Riverside Community Hospital about 2:50 a.m. on Dec. 26.
According to Olivas, Vargas’ Toyota was found not far from the crash, abandoned on the side of the road. The defendant was nowhere in sight.
The CHP said Vargas went to the Chino Police Department early on the morning of Dec. 26 and reported that his van had been stolen, but investigators checked his story and determined that he was lying. The defendant was arrested at the police station.
According to San Bernardino County Superior Court records, Vargas has prior convictions for creating a public disturbance and petty theft.