By Simone Del Rosario. CREATED Mar 17, 2014
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A Tucson man is sentenced Monday to five years in prison for killing his teenage passenger in a rollover crash last year.
He admitted to driving drunk, high and too fast down a dirt road on the southwest side when he flipped his Bronco.
Angel Ruelas, 20, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, fleeing the scene and driving under the influence. Police say 19-year-old Alicia Deegan was thrown from the Bronco on June 23 and Ruelas took off.
"He left her there in the desert to die," said Charissa Deegan, Alicia's mother, in an emotional testimony in the courtroom.
"She was stolen from us -- just stolen in the night and nothing could ever change that," Deegan said. "No sentencing; no probation; nothing."
"At the end of the day, they still get to have him," said Alissa Rice, Alicia's sister, speaking of Ruelas' family. "When his five years are up they still get to hug him; they'll still get to hold him; he still has his whole life ahead of him. And for us, we're sentenced a lifetime without Alicia. It never ends for us."
Rice heard the crash that night in June and came out to find her sister alone in the desert. She revived her with CPR, but after a month on life support, the family said goodbye.
"I still deal with it every day," Rice said. "I think about it all the time: How she was when I found her; how she looked."
But she says the more powerful memory was from just minutes before the crash when the sisters said goodbye at a party.
"Hugging me, 'Alissa I love you,' and I just hugged her back, 'Alicia I love you too, I love you so much.' And I'm very fortunate to have gotten that to be my last memory because a lot of people don't."
The family showed a video montage of Alicia's life in court, including their last home video of Alicia, taken a month before the crash, celebrating her high school graduation.
The video also had a recording of Alicia reciting her mantra at her senior presentation. The family wore shirts with this mantra at the hearing.
"I live for the nights I can't remember with the people who I won't forget. I am a spontaneous person and I love to live in the moment. And God will always be a part of my life no matter what situation I get myself into."