A woman, testifying Tuesday in the trial of an alleged drunken driver accused of causing a fiery freeway pileup, described how she barely escaped the wreck that killed her brother and boyfriend by crawling into the front seat and being pulled from the wreckage by good Samaritans.
Giovanna Dominguez testified that two rear-end crashes on Jan. 2, 2018 — including one allegedly caused by 38-year-old defendant Jeffrey Brian Levi — left her brother, 33-year-old Jesus David Dominguez, and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Isaac Felix, trapped inside the wreckage of her sibling’s Toyota Corolla.
The prosecution alleges that Levi was driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph when his 2015 Ford Mustang rear-ended the Corolla, disabling the sedan in the fast lane on northbound Interstate 15 near Miramar Road about 11:45 p.m. A Ford Explorer driven by an off-duty San Diego police sergeant then struck the Corolla, which burst into flames. The city-owned SUV overturned, coming to rest upside down.
Levi’s car crashed off the opposite side of the freeway, and walked away unscathed, according to the prosecution.
The defendant, who has a previous DUI conviction from 2007, faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.
Dominguez said that none of the Corolla’s occupants were injured following the first crash, but with the car disabled and other vehicles swerving around the wreck, she feared that they would “get hit again.” She said her brother and Felix remained strapped into their seats while trying to contact authorities, but Dominguez undid her seatbelt because she wanted to get out of the car.
The second crash occurred as soon as a minute later, sparking a fire that eventually engulfed the Corolla.
“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do,” Dominguez testified through tears. “I jumped to the front seat. It was just so hot in there and I couldn’t get out.”
After kicking the front passenger door in an attempt to escape the flames, bystanders were able to pull her out, she said.
Dominguez suffered broken bones and burns throughout her body. She said she has undergone three surgeries so far and will require further operation, in addition to ongoing physical therapy.
The off-duty police officer was treated for minor to moderately serious injuries.
Levi was apprehended 15 minutes after the crash walking toward his home. The defendant’s blood-alcohol content was measured at .16-.17 percent, twice the legal limit for driving, three hours after the collision, according to the prosecution.
At the time of the crash, Felix, his girlfriend and her brother were on their way home to Riverside from Tijuana International Airport, where they had dropped off a family member.
The hearing, which will determine if there’s enough evidence to proceed to trial, will resume Wednesday morning.
— City News Service