Gilroy man charged in fatal crash

Suspect remains in custody; victim identified

Isael Velarde, a Gilroy resident accused of crashing a vehicle and leaving his severely injured passenger to die on the road just north of Morgan Hill on June 6, faces more than 10 years in prison for his involvement in the collision and death, according to authorities.

Velarde, 18, was arraigned last week on charges of vehicular manslaughter, DUI causing injury and driving while unlicensed, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Daniel Borca said. For the most serious charge—felony vehicular manslaughter—Velarde could be sentenced to 10 years, eight months in prison if convicted.

The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office identified the victim of the fatal crash as 16-year-old Joey Pineda of Gilroy.

The vehicle collision resulting in the charges against Velarde occurred just before 4am June 6, when San Jose police officers responded to a report of a traffic incident with major injuries at Monterey Road and Palm Avenue, according to police. Investigating officers, as well as officers responding from the California Highway Patrol, determined that Velarde was driving a Toyota Camry northbound when he crossed into the southbound lanes and continued north before striking a center median guardrail.

Isael Velarde

A juvenile passenger was ejected from the Toyota as a result of that impact, police said. A passing witness stopped to help and saw a juvenile male lying in the roadway. Velarde fled the scene, with an adult passenger still in the vehicle, just after the witness contacted him. The juvenile was pronounced dead at the scene when officers arrived.

Velarde continued driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Monterey Road, according to police. Responding CHP officers located the Toyota, made a traffic stop at Monterey Road and Bailey Avenue and arrested Velarde.

Velarde remains in custody at Santa Clara County Jail in lieu of $311,000, Borca said. His next court date is scheduled for July 17 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

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