ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The driver involved in a crash in Ascension Parish in 2016 that killed one person and seriously injured another will spend the next few years in jail after pleading guilty to charges.
The 23rd Judicial Court reported Jerry Mendez, 19, of Gonzales, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and DWI (first offense) in connection with the crash that resulted in the death of Tomas Hernandez-Lozano, 46.
On the vehicular homicide charge, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison with credit for time served, but the judge ordered 13 of those be suspended. Mendez was sentenced to 6 months in jail with credit for time served on the DWI charge. The sentences are to run concurrent with one another. The judge also ordered him to be put on 5 years probation once he is released from prison.
Louisiana State Police reported the crash happened on Airline Highway near LA 73 in Ascension Parish on March 20, 2016. Troopers said Mendez was driving southbound on Airline Highway in his 2006 Toyota Tundra when he lost control and went off the road. They added Mendez then hit the driver's side of the 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe Hernandez-Lozano was driving as he waited to exit the parking lot of the Flea Market of Louisiana. According to investigators, the impact caused Hernandez-Lozano's vehicle to flip and roll.
Hernandez-Lozano, who was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Ascension Parish Coroner's Office. His passenger, who was also wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
Mendez received only minor injuries in the crash.