UPDATE2, Feb 24, 2009: Aguilera was found guilty at trial. Sentencing is scheduled for April 24. Here is a wild picture of the wreck — the motorcycle is impaled upright in the grill of Aguilera’s car… was speed a factor?
UPDATE1: The Aguilera case is going to trial. You can see the wheels of justice slowly grinding via the superior court’s website.The crash occurred May 2007; it’s now Feb 2009. It appears that the case being brought was solely due to the alchohol content (which fits the pattern — in the mind of the county attorney’s office there is never any criminal culpability outside the context of alcohol ).
In October 2007, news reports said Aguilera had a 0.057 BAC four hours after the crash. He was indicted on aggravated assault (and not DUI). The assault charges are far more serious:
Thomas said Tuesday said he believes the aggravated assault charges will stick, and even if Aguilera’s blood alcohol level would have been above the legal limit, Thomas said his office likely wouldn’t have asked for charges of a misdemeanor DUI.
Interesting points:An off-duty DPS officer, in his uninsured vehicle is accused of causing the wreck. This case is moving pretty quickly — the crash occurred May 4th 2007, 2 months ago. The link to DUI is hinted at, but results still not in (not unusual) — if other cases are any guide, the DUI status of Aguilera will determine whether or not criminal charges (aggravated assault?) are brought.
Criminal charges vs. officer up in air
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 4, 2007 12:00 AM
Except for medical appointments, Mark Streech is mostly confined to his father’s Maryvale home.
The 26-year-old maneuvers around the house in a wheelchair and spends much of his time at what he jokingly refers to as his “post” on the living room couch.
And he waits for resolution.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case of a former Department of Public Safety officer who authorities say triggered an accident that cost Streech his right leg.
What charges George Aguilera, 50, could face are not clear. DPS officials would not comment on the criminal investigation.
But an accident report released this week showed Aguilera as off-duty and driving his own uninsured Ford Mustang when he struck Streech’s motorcycle from behind at about 1:30 a.m. on May 4.
The accident report estimates Aguilera was traveling at least 61 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone when he struck Streech. The force of impact lodged the bike in the Mustang’s front end and tossed Streech onto Interstate 17 in northwest Phoenix, where he was struck by an 18-wheeler going about 55 mph.
Aguilera was placed on immediate paid administrative leave.
A week later, he notified DPS officials that he was retiring after 27 years on the job.
The accident report indicated that Aguilera had been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. Inattention and speed were also factors, the report showed.
A law officer should have known better, said Streech’s father, Arlo.
“It’s uncomfortable when you assume they’re supposed to be upholding the standard,” Arlo Streech said. “As far as Mark’s concerned, it doesn’t really matter whether it was a DPS officer or the king of France. The loss is there.”
A physical therapist stops by the house twice a week, and Streech has exercises to do on his own.
It’s a different sort of pace than what he’s used to.
His family has described Streech as an avid outdoorsman and energetic world traveler who visited Japan, the Philippines, and once Thailand for kickboxing. He spent a summer as a commercial fisherman in waters near Alaska.
Motorcycles have been part of Streech’s life for a decade, first in the dirt and then on asphalt. At the time of the crash, he was riding a 2003 Honda XR650R dirt bike modified for legal street use.
The accident report describes a scene with debris and clothing strewn about 130 feet.
Aguilera had just entered Interstate 17 southbound at Northern Avenue and was looking over his left shoulder as he merged into traffic. He told the detective he didn’t see the motorcycle until he faced forward and simultaneously felt the impact.
Occupants of a Swift Transportation semitractor-trailer rig following at some distance behind the motorcycle reported seeing heavy smoke in the area and then feeling a bump. Streech was run over by the rear tires, which crushed bones in his legs and ripped flesh and muscle.
Streech doesn’t remember the day his fear of a crash became reality or even several days before that. Vivid was waking up in an intensive care unit after a month of drug-induced coma and “noticing something was missing.”
“It was like, OK, my leg is gone,” Streech said. “From that very second, I was OK with it. I didn’t freak out.”
While the criminal case has yet to materialize, Streech and his parents are moving forward with a civil suit. The complaint was filed June 13 in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Aguilera has been served, but couriers as of Tuesday had not been able to contact his wife, who was also named as a defendant, said Barry MacBan, Streech’s attorney.
Civil cases typically follow criminal proceedings, but MacBan said the suit gives him the power to subpoena documents in a timely manner.
“We did have some concerns because we kept getting assurances that, ‘Yes, you’re going to have this information soon,’ and it was not forthcoming,” MacBan said by phone from his Tucson office. “We still don’t have the criminal aspects. . . . Maybe they’re being careful because it’s one of their own, but it’s very frustrating and all it does is create doubt.”
In their defense, DPS officials said they have treated the case as any other and do not rush procedures in order to be thorough.
A statement issued by DPS on Tuesday said the criminal report was available to the public but that it would take at least 15 days for its records department to fulfill requests.
The Streech family says they have heard about the contents of the report but are anxious to read it themselves. It could make the difference as to how and if Streech will be compensated for the trauma.
No matter the outcome, Streech said he bears no grudge against the officer.
“Everybody’s human,” he said. “I’ve done some stupid things in my life. What are you going to do? What’s done is done, and why be sad about it?”