Drunk Driver Sentenced to 34 Years for Crash that Killed Molalla Mother, Four Children in 2017

A man convicted of causing the DUI crash that killed a mother and four young children was sentenced to 34 years in prison this week.

In November, 29-year-old Favian Garcia, of Gervais, was found guilty on five counts of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and other charges stemming from the deadly Oct. 7, 2017, crash on Highway 99E near Salem. Lisette Medrano-Perez, a 25-year-old Molalla woman, and four children, ranging in age from 2 to 8, died at the scene after Garcia plowed head-on into their Buick Century.

Garcia was driving in the wrong lane, and with a suspended license. Oregon State Police troopers noticed his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and his speech was slow and slurred. He told investigators that he had not been drinking that day and was just “hungover.”

His blood alcohol content was later shown to be 0.318 percent — four times the legal limit. Methamphetamine were also found in his system.

The young victims were Medrano-Perez’s three children — Ivan Ricardo Contreras-Medrano, Andrus Contreras-Medrano and Dayanara Medrano-Perez — along with her 2-year-old niece, Angelina Vazquez-Crisp.

According to the Statesman-Journal, the family was on their way to Salem to get haircuts for 8-year-old Ivan Ricardo and 6-year-old Andrus, who were having their pictures taken at Molalla Elementary School. Dayanara had just celebrated her fourth birthday, and was still carrying her pink princess crown bearing the words “Happy Birthday.”

In an emotional interview with KATU at the scene of the crash, OSP Lt. Bob Charpentier recalled seeing that pink crown in the wreckage — an image he said he could never forget.

Garcia’s case has wound through several twists and turns over the past two years. He had originally expressed willingness to plead guilty to the charges, but changed his mind in June of last year and asked for a trial.

He later waived his right to a jury trial and was set to be tried from the bench by Marion County Judge Sean Armstrong. The morning his trial was set to begin, he elected at the last minute to stipulate to a series of facts summarized by prosecutors, according to the Statesman-Journal.

Judge Armstrong reviewed the facts and found him guilty on all charges.

Garcia had a long and disturbing criminal record, particularly concerning drunk driving and alcohol-related offenses. He had two prior DUII convictions — one from 2011 and one from just months before the fatal crash — and had other outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest.

First-degree manslaughter is a Measure 11 offense, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, but prosecutors had argued for Garcia’s sentence to be served consecutively (one at a time), rather than concurrently (all at once). This would have given him 52 years — effectively a life sentence.

After hearing heartfelt testimony from Angelina’s mother and other family members, Judge Armstrong sentenced Garcia to 34 years, with no eligibility for early parole.

Want to support free, useful, locally produced journalism like this? Then consider joining our monthly membership program, Canby Now Plus, for as little as $1 a month! You’ll help us sustain and expand our work, plus you can get access to exclusive content, cool merchandise and other goodies. Thanks!