A tragic auto accident that took the lives of a mother and daughter the morning of July 4, 2011 finally has some closure. The driver accused of causing the accident, 19 year-old Mexican immigrant Felix Solano-Gallardo, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter on January 4. He also admitted to driving while intoxicated, with a blood alcohol content over twice the legal limit. Solano-Gallardo had given conflicting accounts to police since the accident, even refusing to confirm his real name. He is allegedly an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He claimed several different names and ages while the criminal case progressed, be he testified in court the day of his plea that Solano-Gallardo is his real name, and that he is in fact 19 years old.
The crash occurred at about 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 4 on Interstate 435 in Kansas City. 911 operators had already received calls about a vehicle traveling the wrong way on the highway. Solano-Gallardo had been driving south in the northbound lanes for several minutes when his white Mountaineer collided head-on with a black Impala driven by a 44 year-old woman and carrying her 11 year-old daughter. No skid marks were found at the scene, leading investigators to suspect both cars were traveling at highway speeds, around 65 miles per hour. The mother and child reportedly died instantly, and Solano-Gallardo was severely injured. The mother and daughter had been driving from their home in Belton to a Fourth of July parade in Sugar Creek.
Solano-Gallardo was taken to an area hospital. At 10:30 a.m., nearly two hours after the crash, his blood-alcohol content was reportedly .185 percent, more than double Missouri’s legal limit of .08 percent. Police reported that he was “evasive” about identifying himself. He invoked his right to an attorney and remained at the hospital in serious condition. Because he was hospitalized, he did not appear before a judge until later. Prosecutors requested a $500,000 cash-only bond.
Solano-Gallardo appeared in court for his plea in a wheelchair, still recovering from his injuries. His sentencing is scheduled for March 9, when the judge could impose as much as thirty years’ imprisonment. Given his suspected immigration status, federal immigration authorities will likely place a detainer on Solano-Gallardo, if they have not done so already. This is a request to local law enforcement to hold an inmate past the release date until immigration authorities can take custody of the inmate. This is done when they suspect an inmate of immigration violations. If Solano-Gallardo receives a prison sentence, he may face deportation proceedings once he is released.
From the perspective of civil liability, this case present complicated problems. There seems to be little doubt that a driver causing an accident such as this could be liable for negligence. Driving while intoxicated constitutes a gross breach of a driver’s duty of care to others on the road. His actions caused an accident that caused the deaths of two people. However, he is possibly going to prison for some time and may have to leave the country after that. This would unfortunately make recovering any sort of damages doubly difficult.
Kansas City auto accident attorney Doug Horn advocates safe driving and represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries in auto accidents. For a free and confidential consultation, contact the firm today online or at (816) 795-7500.