MADRAS, Ore. - (Updated with more details from Leriche)
A 28-year-old Warm Springs man has pleaded no contest to assault and DUII charges and was sentenced to five years in prison for a Highway 26 rollover crash last month that injured six passengers, including five children as young as 16 months, Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche said Thursday.
Mario Perez Jr. entered the pleas Wednesday to third-degree assault, a Class C felony, and DUII, a Class A misdemeanor, before Circuit Judge Daniel Ahern, Leriche said.
Adult passenger Tasheyna Sohappy and five children ages 16 months to 13 years were injured in the April 2 crash of a 1999 Lincoln Navigator, the DA said.
Leriche said empty and unopened beer containers were found at the scene, and a breath test showed Perez’s blood alcohol content was still .11, above the legal limit of .08, nearly four hours after the crash.
Authorities said Perez’s SUV was heading east on the highway when he failed to negotiate a sweeping left curve and it went onto the gravel and cinder shoulder. The drive corrected to the left, but the side of the rear bumper apparently clipped a guardrail slightly. Leriche said Perez over-corrected to the right, causing the SUV to roll.
Speed did not appear to be a factor, the DA said, but “due to intoxication, the driver was unable to judge and maneuver a routine curve in the road.”
A prosecutor noted Perez was on probation for first-degree criminal mistreatment and was not supposed to consume alcohol, Leriche said. The defendant’s attorney argued it was Perez’s first conviction for DUII and only his second overall in seeking a lighter sentence.
Ahern agreed to the prosecution's request for a five-year prison term, with eligibility for alternative programs and to earn time off for good behavior.
“The district attorney’s office urges the public to ‘think before you drink’ and plan for alternative transportation after consuming intoxicants,” Leriche said in a news release.