The drunken driver who seriously injured two college students in a head-on collision on Western Reserve Road last summer is going to prison for eight years, after which he’ll be deported to Mexico.
Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court imposed the prison time Friday on Victor Manuel Galindo- Barjas, 36, who earlier had pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and one count of drunken driving in the July 25 crash.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that Barjas had a blood-alcohol content of 0.273 — more than three times the state legal limit of 0.08.
“The choice to drink and drive is like placing a bullet in a gun ... and pulling the trigger,” said Judge Durkin, adding that the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will deport Barjas to his native Mexico when his prison term ends.
“The defendant that night chose to drink and then chose to drive afterward,” said Nicholas Brevetta, an assistant county prosecutor. “The victims didn’t have the opportunity to make a choice. They’re victims by his decision,” said Brevetta, who sought a 10-year prison term.
Defense lawyer Miriam Ocasio said her client is “extremely remorseful” and has no prior criminal record and called for the minimum prison term, which would have been one year.
“The scars that I live with will never completely fade,” said a tearful Bruce Minotti Jr., 20, of Youngstown, who suffered a broken foot, hip and elbow in the crash. He still walks with a cane.
Minotti said he suffered “indescribable pain” and emotional scars and that his lost schooling set him back at least a year. “I will never fully recover,” he said.
“It has caused unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable despair, pain and suffering and deep grief, emotionally and physically, to me and everyone around me,” said Lauren Carissimi, 19, of Canfield, Minotti’s girlfriend and passenger.
Carissimi said she suffered a broken arm and torn neck ligaments and had to drop out of college and quit her job.
Both victims resumed their college studies this month, Minotti at Youngstown State University and Carissimi at Kent State University.
“I’m really very sorry for what happened. ... I didn’t mean to harm them,” Barjas, a native Spanish speaker, said through state-certified court interpreter John P. Shaklee of North Canton.
Barjas said he drank to celebrate after hearing from his wife the news of the impending birth of their first-born son. “I’m hoping to God that they can recover. ... I’d like you to forgive me,” Barjas told the judge.