On Christmas Eve, 2006, illegal alien Carlos Prieto drank five beers and got behind the wheel of his pickup truck. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when he ran a red light in Murray, UT and slammed into the Ceran family’s car.
Cheryl, 47, Ian, 15, and Julianna, 7, were killed. Gary Ceran, Cheryl’s husband, Caleb, 12, and Clarissa, 19, were seriously injured but survived.
The family was on their way home from some last-minute Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart, after watching Gary, Clarissa and Caleb perform in \"The Christmas Carol\" at the Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley.
Prosecutors said Prieto, 25, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit, when his pickup truck broadsided the Ceran family\'s car just after midnight Dec. 24.
A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement interviewed Prieto and confirmed he is a Mexican national and is in the country illegally for several years.
A check of court records didn\'t bring up any previous arrests, but KSL News learned that two years ago Prieto was cited for speeding and driving without a license. That case was resolved in Salt Lake County Justice Court, after he paid a fine.
Prieto pleaded guilty to three counts of automobile homicide. Prosecutors dismissed three counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and one count of driving without a license as part of a plea bargain. He was sentenced for only two of the auto homicide convictions, for which he will serve up to 10 years in prison. He will serve up to five years for each count; one of them will run concurrently.
The crash wasn\'t the first time Ceran\'s family had experienced loss. Three other children, ranging from 3 weeks old to 14 months, died from tumors on their brain stem. Twins born prematurely also died within a day of their birth.
Documentation:27DEC06, KSL TV5, Salt Lake City
Drunk Driver of Fatal Crash Believed to be an Illegal Immigrant, by Sandra Yi
30DEC06, Daily Herald, Salt Lake City
Community rallies to help Ceran family, by Natalie Andrews
24MAY07, KSL TV5, Salt Lake City
Man Sentenced to Up to 10 Years in Crash That Killed 3 People, by Sandra Yi
24MAY07, Washington Post
Utah Man Seeks Mercy for Crash Defendant, by Debbie Hummel