Anthony Lewis Sanchez, 40, has been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence, striking, and killing a mother, daughter, and another family member with his vehicle. The incident took place around 11 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the 100 block of South Western Avenue, near Lincoln Avenue, said police Sgt. Bob Dunn.
Officials claim that Sanchez, the Buena Park resident, was driving under the influence when he struck and killed Anaheim residents Carmen Mendoza, 56, her daughter and full-time student at Cypress College Sheyla Mendoza, 21, and Stephanie Henriquez (niece and cousin to the pair, respectively). The elder Mendoza and her niece (Henriquez) died at the hospital while Sheyla Mendoza died at the scene. A former classmate of Sheyla Mendoza said that all three victims were walking home after attending a nearby baby shower.
“She always had a smile on her face,” said Candy Cortez, 21, a classmate who attended Western High School with Mendoza. “No matter what was going on in her life.” After the incident, Cortez and a friend lid religious candles the day after the incident. They established a memorial with dozens of flowers and religious white candles on the curb.
A neighbor who brought a tall candle to the memorial expressed that the stretch of Western Avenue is a notorious speeding ground that is surrounded by apartments, a Laundromat, and single-family homes. “They should impose a lower speed limit,” said Maxie Hamilton, 44, who was also at the memorial. At the moment of the accident Sanchez was driving a red Honda Civic and was accompanied by a female passenger. Both were taken to the local hospital and were treated for non-life-threatening facial injuries.
“Him and his conscious can live through it,” Cortez said of the driver. “He’ll be the one to bear it.”
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Sanchez is being charged with multiple felonies, including three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of Penal Code section 191.5(a). Each count carries a separate enhancement of infliction of great bodily injury in violation of Penal Code section 12022.7(a). Sanchez is also being charged with felony DUI with injury in violation of Vehicle Code section 23153(a) and 23153(b).
The law states that a GBI enhancement cannot be added onto a charge of manslaughter for the same victim. However, the great bodily injury enhancement can apply to any victim. That means, for the manslaughter count involving the mother, the GBI enhancement applies to any other victim — in this case, the daughter and the other family member. For the manslaughter count involving the daughter, the GBI enhancement would apply to the mother and the other family member. But if all three victims are dead, why does the prosecution bother to allege great bodily injury enhancements at all? The reason the prosecutors allege the GBI enhancements are because (1) it makes the current offense a strike; (2) it prevents the court from imposing a probation sentence and (3) it increases the maximum punishment that can be imposed. The great bodily injury enhancement is one of the worst enhancements that can be imposed against a defendant.
Visit our website for a more details on enhancements.