First responders with the two wrecked vehicles
First responders examine the two wrecked vehicles. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A drunken driver who was behind the wheel of a speeding car that struck a Lyft vehicle on state Route 163 in Balboa Park, killing one man and leaving another with a debilitating brain injury, was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years and four months in state prison.

Alondra Selena Marquez, 22, of San Diego, pleaded guilty last month to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury for the March 23 crash that killed 40-year-old San Francisco resident Giao Pham and severely injured Pham’s friend, Andy Lynn.

The victims were in San Diego to attend a wedding when the Lyft car they were riding in was struck from behind by Marquez’s car about 2:30 a.m. on SR 163 near Laurel Street.

Marquez and the victims had coincidentally been at the same tavern — Rich’s Bar in Hillcrest — on the night of the crash. While the victims opted to use a ride-hailing service, Marquez rejected rides home from several friends in favor of getting behind the wheel, according to Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright.

Marquez’s blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit and she was speeding at more than 100 miles per hour at the time of the crash, according to the prosecutor.

In addition to Pham and Lynn, the Lyft driver suffered minor injuries in the crash and has had to seek counseling due to its emotional after-effects, according to Bright.

At a victim impact hearing last week attended by around 40 of Pham and Lynn’s family and friends, — including Lynn himself — their loved ones accused Marquez of showing no remorse, as well as feigning unconsciousness for several days following the crash in order to delay court proceedings.

Pham’s partner of nearly 11 years, John Lawhead, screamed at Marquez, “Take accountability! Show remorse! Do you understand what you’ve done?”

Lawhead said the last time he spoke with Pham was in a phone call the night he died. Upon hearing the news around 5 the following morning, he frantically called Pham’s cell phone and “begged Giao to pick up, but he didn’t.”

Pham’s sister, Nguyet Pham, said many members of her family remain angry that “Giao did the right thing and took a Lyft car home, but is now dead, while the defendant decided to break the law and drive drunk, yet she is still alive.”

Lynn was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury, which affects him to this day, he said. Formerly a vibrant, lively man, the San Francisco hair salon owner said he’s been rendered a shell of himself.

“Every day, I have to learn to eat, use the bathroom, to walk,” said Lynn, who said he is “still dealing with the consequences of her (Marquez’s) decisions.”

Lynn said the incident has been especially painful both for losing Pham, and for the self-sufficiency he no longer possesses. His younger sister has since become his primary caregiver.

Following the victim statements, Marquez apologized to the family members “for the horrible situation I caused” and said she hoped they would find peace. Marquez claimed she had no memory of the crash.

— City News Service