Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A man pleaded guilty Friday and was immediately sentenced to 12 years in prison for a drunken driving crash that killed a 14-year-old boy and injured three others in Huntington Beach.

Jaime Xahuentitla Palacios, 39, accepted a plea deal from Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald. The defendant pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter, among other felonies.

The three-vehicle crash last June 25 killed Ethan McEnally of Trabuco Canyon, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker.

Before the collision, a witness called police about 7:35 p.m. to report they were trailing a possible drunken driver in a pickup truck, but lost sight of him, according to Huntington Beach police Sgt. David Dereszynski.

Moments later came the call of the pileup at Newland Street and Adams Avenue involving a 2006 GMC Yukon, a 2000 Nissan Frontier and a 2004 Toyota Tacoma, Dereszynski said.

Ethan — who had to be cut out of the vehicle — was in the Toyota with two teen relatives, including the vehicle’s 18-year-old driver. They were headed home after eating out with family.

One of the victims was Ethan’s brother and the other was a cousin, Walker said. Another victim was unrelated and in another of the cars involved in the crash.

The Nissan was southbound on Newland when it collided with the Toyota, which was northbound on Newland, Dereszynski said.

The Toyota then slammed into a light pole while the Nissan crashed into the Yukon, which was stationary in the westbound lanes of Adams Avenue.

Palacios’ blood-alcohol level was measured at .22, Walker said.

Witnesses at the scene thought he would flee, so they took the defendant’s keys, Walker said.

Palacios was arrested at the scene of the crash, but he posted $100,000 bail and was freed. Investigators received information that the defendant was planning to flee to Mexico, prompting police to obtain an arrest warrant, Walker said.

Ethan, who had a passion for soccer, was “a very happy, enthusiastic, full-of-life kid who had just graduated eighth grade and was excited about starting high school,” the prosecutor said.

–City News Service

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