On October 27, 2006 Meghan Hughes, 22, Ben Leonard, 16, and Jennifer Carter, 18 were all killed by drunk driving illegal alien Pastor Rios Sanchez.
State Troopers say, Pastor Sanchez was drunk when he crossed the center line of the highway and plowed into them head on. Hughes, of Summerville, S.C., Carter, of Jacksonville, both students at North Carolina State University, and Hughes' stepbrother, Leonard, were returning to Raleigh from Lee County when a 1999 Dodge Intrepid driven by Rios crossed the center line on N.C. Highway 42 about five miles east of Sanford, authorities said.
The Intrepid collided head-on with Hughes' 1990 Toyota Corolla station wagon, killing Hughes and Carter instantly. Leonard died during surgery at Central Carolina Hospital, authorities said
Sanchez broke his arm in the accident.
ABC11 news reported, “Investigators say the driver of the car that hit the students should never have been behind the wheel.” Additionally, Sanchez was convicted of driving without an operators license in 2005, according to court records. He was charged with a similar misdemeanor in March and April. One of the charges was dismissed, but Sanchez failed to appear in Harnett County court in August, records show.
Though Sanchez had a residency card, investigators now believe it was a fake, said Tom O'Connell, the resident agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
O'Connell said Sanchez was from the Mexican state of Guerrero, and that immigration officials don't believe he has ever legally been in the United States.
In November 2006, federal immigration agents confirmed that Rios is in the country illegally and placed him under an immigration detainer, meaning that if he's going to be released from custody for any reason, he'll be turned over to federal authorities, who can begin the process of deporting him.
Zach Spinks the victims' friend states, "I know the 3 of them. They were strong Christians. They had good faith. I know they're in heaven right now just praising god." The 3 were members of Grace Community Church which meets on N.C. State's campus for bible study and other events.
Another friend, Logan Hux, stated, "It's caused a lot of damage to us, our church family."
Pastor Rios Sanchez was offered a chance to plead guilty to a reduced set of charges. The news had Dannon Forbes of Columbia, S.C., fuming.. Forbes is the mother of 16¬year-old Ben Leonard and 22¬year-old Megan Hughes,. Forbes said she was contacted this week by an attorney handling her children's estates and told that Lee County Assistant District Attorney Mike Beam plans to offer Rios a chance to plead guilty to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and face 16 to 20months in prison for each count.
Forbes said she hopes the presiding judge will reject the plea deal. "All I know is that I have to keep fighting this," she said. "The D.A.'s office was supposed to be defending my kids, and it looks like they won't."
However, under the plea arrangement, prosecutors dismissed all other traffic violations against him, including driving while impaired and driving on the wrong side of the highway. Sanchez was also given credit for the 10 months he has already served while awaiting trial.
Documentation:29OCT06, ABC 11 Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville
Troopers: Alcohol Leads to Deadly Crash
30OCT06, ABC 11 Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville
Family, Friends Say Goodbye to Accident Victim
31OCT06, Fay Observer
Short lives are a lesson in strength, by Greg Barnes
7NOV06, The News & Observer
Wreck suspect may be illegal alien - Drunken driving is alleged in the accident that killed three people near Sanford, by Jessica Rocha
13AUG07, Family Security Matters
Illegal Alien Killer of Three American Children to Be Offered Plea Deal
Man Sentenced in Triple-Fatal DWI Crash