The drunk driver, that forever changed the life of Bexar County District Judge Karen Crouch, pled guilty Tuesday in a Vermont court to a head on crash that injured the judge and killed her sister-in-law.
In October 2011, Crouch was in Vermont attending a national legal conference when here car was hit head on by 19-year-old Carlos Garcia. Her sister-in-law, Zayra Flores, was in the car with her during the time of the accident, and she later died.
“It happened in broad daylight,” Crouch said. “Losing ‘Z’ affected not only me but our entire family… she was like my ‘Lucy’ from ‘I Love Lucy’ we were very close.’”
Crouch said one of the hardest things she had to face was the loss of her independence. She relied heavily on the help of her family, and was in and out of therapy for more than a year before she was able to drive a car again.
“The kids were very attached and they didn’t want me to go anywhere where they couldn't see me, for fear that something would happen to me,” Crouch said. “I couldn’t move, I was non-weight bearing for months ... I have some physical challenges that I didn’t have before that will probably be permanent.”
The breath test for Garcia showed an alcohol level of 0.230%, nearly three times the legal limit. The state plans to ask for a split sentence where Garcia would serve half his sentence in jail and the other half would be spent on probation for an indefinite amount of time, Crouch said.
“Even after he gets out of jail he is still going to be a danger to people in society, unless rehab is included in his probation,” Crouch said. “Nothing is going to bring my 'Z' back.”
Because Garcia pled ‘guilty’ there will be no trial but instead a sentencing hearing. Crouch said she plans on attending to give a victim impact statement
“I never thought my place in the courtroom would be as a victim,” Crouch said. “It gives me just another perspective... the more you know about the system and the more you’re able to identify with what 's happening, the more confident you are as a juror.”