A judge sentenced a 31-year-old Watsonville man to seven years in state prison Monday for causing a drunken driving collision that injured two women last summer, the District Attorney's Office reported.
Javier Baltazar had two prior DUI convictions when a jury found him guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol, causing great bodily injury to two victims, leaving the scene of an accident, driving with a suspended license and giving false information to the police.
Two women in the car Baltazar hit were badly hurt in the crash, which happened around 10 p.m. on Aug. 28. The driver had to be cut from her vehicle and was flown by medical helicopter to a trauma center. Her passenger was treated at Watsonville Community Hospital. Both suffered broken bones, lacerations and bruises, the DA's office reported.
During his week-long trial, which occurred in November and December, Baltazar testified that his car was stolen that evening from the berry fields where he worked, according to the DA's office.
However, a witness said Baltazar fled into the bushes moments after the crash. He was caught about a mile away, apparently running home, according to the DA's office. He gave police a fake name, said he didn't have a car and denied any knowledge of the accident. He also said he hadn't been drinking and was just out for a jog, but his blood-alcohol level was 0.19. The legal limit is 0.08.
Also, investigators reportedly found empty beers in the car and Baltazar had bruises on his chest from a seatbelt.
Judge Ariadne Symons sentenced Baltazar.
"The victims are especially grateful to the jury for following the evidence and convicting Mr. Baltazar," prosecutor Kristina Oven said. "Repeat drunk drivers like Mr. Baltazar pose a serious danger to our community. We're pleased he has been taken off our streets."