UPDATED: Drunk Driver Who Struck, Severely Injured Border Patrolman Sentenced

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A drunk driver who struck and severely injured a U.S. Border Patrol agent staffing a checkpoint on Interstate 15 near Temecula was bound for state prison Wednesday to serve a sentence of four years, four months.

Jaime Alejandro Garcia, 31, of San Bernardino pleaded guilty in March to hit-and-run resulting in great bodily injury, driving under the influence causing great bodily injury and DUI with an excessive blood-alcohol level.

Garcia’s plea was made directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Thomas Kelly, without input from the District Attorney’s Office. During a hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice Tuesday, Kelly imposed the sentence he had stipulated after accepting the defendant’s admissions in March.

The judge has since signed the order authorizing the transfer of Garcia to the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He had been free on bail, but was remanded to the custody of sheriff’s deputies Tuesday.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Lassig, at about 2:20 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2021, Border Patrol agents from the USBP Murrieta station were operating the checkpoint located on northbound I-15 at Rainbow Valley Boulevard, along the boundary separating Riverside and San Diego counties.

Lassig said the victim, whose identity was not released, was standing within the checkpoint stop zone, in the middle of the No. 2 lane, when Garcia proceeded into the zone at 60 mph in his 2013 Mini Cooper, never slowing down.

The agent was hit and “propelled up and over the Mini Cooper (and) landed on I-15 traffic lanes,” Lassig said.

“(Garcia) continued to drive his vehicle northbound on I-15,” the CHP spokesman said. “USBP agents caught up to the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop approximately one mile from the collision scene.”

The defendant was taken into custody without incident and immediately determined by CHP officers to be under the influence. Blood tests later confirmed his blood-alcohol was double the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle, according to court records.

The injured Border Patrolman was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar with life-threatening injuries and was hospitalized for an unspecified period before being released. Prosecutors said he recovered from his injuries but continues to receive treatment for regular pain directly attributable to the near fatal hit-and-run.

Garcia had no documented prior convictions in Riverside County.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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