A 24-year-old Navy man allegedly driving a pickup truck that toppled off the Coronado Bridge and into a crowd at Chicano Park below, killing four people, is expected to be arraigned from his hospital bed Wednesday on charges of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
Richard Anthony Sepolio is suspected of causing the crash Saturday that killed Annamarie Contreras, 50, and Cruz Contreras, 52, a married couple from Chandler, Arizona, along with Hacienda Heights residents Andre Banks, 49, and Francine Jimenez, 45.
Sepolio, a Navy aviation electronics technician assigned to Coronado-based Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6, was badly injured when his GMC pickup truck fell more than 60 feet, and he remains hospitalized. Authorities said he lost control of his truck, which then traveled over the concrete railing on the north side of the bridge.
Sepolio’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash has yet to be made public. California Highway Patrol Cmdr. Jim Nellis said Tuesday that the investigation into the crash is continuing and likely will take months.
Eight other people who had attended a celebration at Chicano Park culminating the La Raza Run motorcycle ride suffered various non-life- threatening injuries in the wreck. The park has since become a growing memorial to the victims.
On Tuesday, Sen. Ben Hueso of San Diego pledged to make improving safety on the iconic bridge a top priority. He said the Coronado Bridge has become synonymous with a loss of life from vehicle crashes and suicide. Hueso called on Gov. Jerry Brown for more resources to improve safety and prevent suicides, such as guardrails or higher sides.
“We have to make sure the bridge is safe for the people above and the people below,” Hueso said.
Tommie Camarillo of the Chicano Park Steering Committee said Saturday’s crash was not the first time the bridge has affected the safety of those at or near the park below. On separate occasions, a motorcycle and a vehicle fender had fallen off the bridge, he said.
— City News Service
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