DA: Charges Upgraded Against Drunk Motorist Who Dragged Teen
Long Beach man arrested for incident last September.
A grand jury has upgraded charges against German Gutierrez for driving drunk, hitting a 15-year-old girl crossing the street, and dragging her for 600 feet, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Monday.
The indictment charges Gutierrez, 59, of Long Beach, with first- and second-degree assault, first-degree vehicular assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, aggravated driving while intoxicated and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. These are added to the original charges of second-degree vehicular assault, leaving the scene of an accident with serious physical injury, and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. Gutierrez faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court Feb. 7.
According to Rice, Gutierrez was driving his 2002 Jeep Liberty eastbound on East Beech Street in Long Beach without his headlights on when he drove through a stop sign at Edwards Boulevard and struck a 15-year-old girl walking her bicycle south across the street at about 9 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2012. Rather than stop and help, Gutierrez kept driving, pinning the victim beneath her bike and dragging her under his vehicle for more than 600 feet, the D.A. said.
After the victim fell away from the vehicle, Gutierrez continued driving, striking a parked vehicle and driving on the sidewalk before coming to a stop in the street and falling out of his vehicle.
Rice said that the victim suffered such serious road rash injuries to the left side of her body that her knee and elbow joints were exposed. Extensive skin grafts have resulted in permanent scarring, and she suffered an injury to the tendons in her left hand that may require surgery.
Gutierrez told officers at the scene that he had consumed “like, a thousand drinks” and hadn’t technically killed anyone, Rice said. He registered a blood-alcohol content reading of .30 percent five hours later.
“The physical injuries and permanent scars this young girl has suffered are horrific, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological toll of trying to stay alive while being dragged under a moving car for 600 feet,” Rice said. “For this defendant to drive with that amount of alcohol in his system is unthinkable, and he will be held accountable for the incredible danger he posed that night.”
Assistant District Attorney Katie Zizza of the Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case for the DA’s Office. Gutierrez is represented by Attorney Kevin Connolly.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.