Fatal Street Racing Crash: 3-Year, 4-Month Sentence for 2019 Coachella Tragedy

A 41-year-old man has been given a prison sentence of three years and four months for a street racing crash in 2019 that killed two elderly people in Coachella.

Angel Ramirez admitted guilt in April to causing the deaths of Sofia Prieto, 74, and her husband, Jose Prieto, 75, due to reckless driving on May 17, 2019.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gregory Olson handed down the sentence on Wednesday, as stated by Brooke Beare, spokesperson for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

His co-defendant, Estevan Jesus Donato, 31, from Coachella, is awaiting trial on two counts of murder. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 10.

During Donato’s preliminary hearing, Sgt. David Morton of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department testified that a witness saw a crash involving two cars—an Audi sedan and a Dodge Challenger—at the intersection of Indio and Grapefruit boulevards, about two miles north of the crash site. The witness heard the cars’ engines revving at the intersection before both sped off, reaching speeds of over 100 mph, Morton added.

The Challenger, driven by Ramirez, then collided with the Prietos’ F-150 as it turned on Grapefruit Boulevard near Mitchell Drive, according to prosecutors. The Audi, allegedly driven by Donato, fled the scene but was later found after a witness reported its license plate.

According to Deputy Ben McCoy’s arrest declaration for Ramirez, deputies responded around 7 p.m. to the intersection where the crash occurred. Sofia Prieto was found lying face down in the road with severe head injuries, and Jose Prieto died at the scene. Sofia passed away at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio.

Ramirez was discovered unconscious in the driver’s seat of the Challenger and was taken to Desert Regional Hospital with major injuries.

McCoy stated that before the fatal crash, Ramirez had challenged Donato to a speed contest by revving his engine at a traffic light. When the light turned green, they both accelerated rapidly next to each other until they reached the intersection where Prieto was making a U-turn.

Donato was interviewed at the Thermal sheriff’s station and claimed he was only driving at the time of the collision, not participating in a race. He accused Ramirez of reckless driving that led to the crash. However, because a video allegedly shows both defendants driving side by side at high speed seconds before the fatal collision, Donato was arrested and later charged.

Neither defendant has a previous felony conviction in Riverside County.

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