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Driver in fatal red-light crash gets prison

16 Apr
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SANTA ANA – A San Clemente man was sentenced to two years in prison Monday for killing another motorist in a high-speed crash where he failed to slow and stop before running through a red light.

Jose Javier Fernandez Ramirez, 21, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and apologized to the family of victim Nicole Davenport, 23, in a letter read by his attorney.

Ramirez was driving at an excessive speed eastbound on Bake Parkway in Lake Forest in his brother’s Toyota truck about 11:10 a.m. on Jan. 14, 2011, when he drove through a red light at North Pointe Drive without slowing, according to prosecutors.

He crashed into the passenger’s side of a Hyundai driven by Davenport as she was making a legal left turn through the intersection on a green light. The impact sent Davenport’s car careening onto the sidewalk. She was transported to Mission Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:01 p.m.

The defendant was not under the influence of alcohol, but court records show he failed to notice the light turn yellow and then red before he entered the intersection. He was also traveling 20 mph over the 50 mph speed limit and there was no skid marks on the highway prior to the point of impact.

Superior Court Judge Craig Robinson handed down the prison sentence pursuant to a negotiated plea with the District Attorney’s Office after he listened to poignant victim-impact statements from Davenport’s mother and grandmother.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye,” said Stephanie Davenport, the victim’s mother. “I miss her every day of my life.”

Grandmother Ann Duffin said that while Ramirez will someday be paroled and rejoin his family, her granddaughter will never be able to do the same.

“She will never see another sunset, lie on the beach, or cheer for the Lakers or the Saints,” Duffin said. “Nicole will never do anything and all because a young man was too impatient to wait for a red light.”

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