Take a life….. Pay the price!
A woman was sentenced Thursday to 51 years to life in state prison for a DUI crash that killed three Las Vegas teenagers in Huntington Beach in 2018 and seriously injured a fourth.
Bani Duarte, 29, of San Clemente was found guilty Oct. 1 of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of driving under the influence causing great bodily injury. The jury also found a sentencing enhancement allegation of inflicting great bodily injury to be true.
“With your actions you’ve committed us to our own prison. We are imprisoned; we are in a hell you cannot think of.”Renee Mack
Mother of Dylan Mack
The teens were in Huntington Beach for spring break when in the early hours of March 29, 2018, Duarte’s Hyundai Sonata struck a Toyota Corolla carrying them as it was stopped at a red light at Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia Street. The Toyota was pushed into a pole and caught fire.
Dylan Mack, 18, Brooke Hawley, 17, and A.J. Rossi, also 17, were killed. A fourth occupant, Alexis Vargas, was severely injured.
On Thursday, Paer heard nearly four hours of victim impact statements from the teens’ friends and families and statements from and on behalf of the defendant before handing down the maximum sentence.
Duarte was sentenced to 45 years to life, with the opportunity for parole, for the three counts of murder. She also was sentenced to six years for DUI causing injury against Vargas. The sentences will be served consecutively.
“The victims’ families are suffering, the defendant’s family is suffering and there are no words to summarize this horrific event………It’s obvious to the court this is a tragedy……. Hopefully this will send a message to this community that this behavior won’t be tolerated.”Judge Gary Paer
Orange County Superior Court
Paer noted that Duarte had a prior DUI arrest in which she “was taken to jail, she was booked, her car was impounded and her license was suspended.”
Duarte told police after the crash that she had been headed south to San Clemente, when in fact she had traveled north on Pacific Coast Highway. When asked if she knew where she was, Duarte said Newport Beach, when in fact the collision occurred in Huntington Beach.
An onboard computer on Duarte’s car showed that the vehicle was traveling 79 mph when it hit the Corolla on a 45 mph stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.