A 27-year-old Everett man convicted of vehicular homicide was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison Tuesday in Yakima County Superior Court.
On Feb. 18, 2018, Kyle Nicholas Gaytan blasted through the intersection of Hoffer and Horschel roads outside Wapato and crashed into another car, killing Maria Gonzalez and severely injuring her husband and 4-year-old grandson.
Gaytan’s 2004 Cadillac CTS rammed into the driver’s side of Gonzalez’s 2012 Chevrolet Impala. Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene. Her grandson, along with his child restraint seat, was ejected from the vehicle.
A neighbor had captured the crash on video.
Gaytan pleaded guilty last month to vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, causing substantial bodily injury and drunken driving. Judge Richard Bartheld sentenced him to 126 months in prison.
Gonzalez and Gaytan family members — about 50 in all — attended Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. An emotional cloud hung over the courtroom. Tears were shed by both families.
About a dozen of Gonzalez’s family were clad in white T-shirts with her picture and the words “In Loving Memory of Maria Gonzalez” along with slogans against drinking and drugs on the back.
They filled the first few rows of seating while Gaytan’s family occupied the remaining three rows.
Gonzalez’s husband, Raffaele Torres, told the court he had been with his wife for 16 years, and said they had a big house with big trees. They often sat under the trees and talked in the afternoon.
“I had to move,” he said. “I miss her very much.”
Torres was injured in the crash and is still undergoing treatment for damage to one of his lungs, he told the court.
Gonzalez’s 4-year-old grandson, Santiago, suffered a severe head injury and will not be able to participate in sports, family told the court.
Gonzalez’s daughters, Lenika and Yasam, read letters to the court describing their mom as a hard worker and devout church member. They said they were upset that Gaytan had yet to apologize.
“Today all I ask is for justice to be done,” said Lenika Gonzalez.
Gaytan’s mother said both families have been forever injured in the tragedy and admitted her son made a horrible mistake.
“He is here to take full responsibility for his actions,” she said. “We are so sorry for your loss.”
Gaytan, too, addressed the court and gave the Gonzalez family a tearful apology.
“I know an apology is not much,” he said. “I am very sorry for what I did. I wish it was me. There’s not a moment that goes by that I don’t think about what I did.”