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DA: Distracted driver had been drinking

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POSTED April 25, 2014 1:09 a.m.

The 19-year-old driver facing a possible prison sentence for striking four high school students along East Highway 120 last Saturday – killing 14-year-old Zachariah Gomez and sending three other teens to the hospital – may have been drinking earlier that night. 

Mia Aguiar was released from the San Joaquin County Jail Tuesday afternoon after appearing at the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court. She had been arraigned for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and an underage drinking-related driving infraction. 

The preliminary report from the California Highway Patrol said that alcohol and drugs were not a factor in the crash, but according to court documents, Aguiar was measured with a .01 blood-alcohol level. The legal limit for intoxication in .08, but because she was under 21 any trace of alcohol is considered an infraction of the law. 

In a quote to the Stockton Record deputy district attorney Robert Himelblau said “it’s an infraction but probably not enough to contribute to the accident.”

Aguiar’s attorney, Gil Somera, told The Record that his client’s BAC was measured at .02. Because of her age, the fact that her entire family lives within San Joaquin County and because she had no criminal record, Somera requested that his client be released pending her next court appearance in June – under the condition that she not operate a motor vehicle or consume alcohol during that time.

Investigators believe that Aguiar – who was traveling westbound on Highway 120 just west of Comconex Road – took her eyes off of the road to look onto the passenger seat for her cell phone. During that time her 1995 Saturn veered over the right line and into a group of four students that were walking the same direction. 

Two of those injured were transported to San Joaquin General Hospital while Gomez and the other were taken to Doctors Hospital of Manteca. Gomez was eventually transferred to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto where he ultimately died. 

Somera was on hand at Manteca High School on Thursday to talk to seniors about the consequences of distracted driving as a part of the “Every 15 Minutes” program. 

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